Pret-a-Reporter

Dior Shows Cruise Collection in L.A.

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Charlize Theron, Brie Larson and Rihanna came out for the fashion house's Cruise 2018 show in the hills of Calabasas, which also featured a performance by Solange.

There were shuttles. There was a remote, dusty location. And there were a whole lot of gorgeous clothes.

Dior brought the runway to the hills of Calabasas on Thursday night, when artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri presented her first cruise collection for the house, just outside of L.A. at the Upper Las Virgenes Open Space Preserve.

Following high-profile runway shows by Louis Vuitton at a John Lautner-designed modern architectural gem in Palm Springs, by Burberry at the Griffith Observatory, and by Tommy Hilfiger on the boardwalk at Venice Beach, Dior chose an oft-overlooked element of the L.A. landscape for its backdrop: the wilderness.

The dry, dusty mesa had some comparing the environs to that of the famous music festival, dubbing the event "Diorchella." Set in tents on the land once known as Lasky Mesa, the event drew 800 attendees from near and far, including Rihanna, Charlize Theron, Brie Larson and Kiernan Shipka, who said of the Hollywood Western-worthy backdrop, "I'm totally surprised."

"It's like a combination between the Renaissance Faire and Burning Man," said Jennifer Tilly, arriving in a tulle skirt and bustier top.

The picturesque spot, which has been used as a set for several old Hollywood films, including Gone With The Wind (1939), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) and They Died With Their Boots On (1941), borders the home of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, who have certainly done their part to make Calabasas trendy, even creating an Adidas Yeezy collection offshoot named Calabasas. But they did not attend the show.

More than trying to tap into some kind of realty TV zeitgeist, the choice of Calabasas was in line with Chiuri’s more down-to-earth approach to fashion. Since joining Dior in 2016, she has put feminist T-shirts, blue jeans and berets on the runway alongside the house's more classic Bar jackets and embroidered tulle ballet skirts.

“We normally show in the city, in Paris or Rome, but to give the experience of an open space is a good moment,” Grazia Chiuri told THR ahead of the show, noting the inspiration for the Cruise 2018 collection was “contact with nature,” the artist Georgia O’Keeffe's experience living in the desert, drawings on the Lascaux caves, and the writings of feminist shaman Vicki Noble, who hails from Berkeley, California.

It was a feat worthy of a film production team to get everyone there. Guests arrived by shuttle or car, then trekked up the one-lane road in golf carts past a "Dior Sauvage" sign and two hot air balloons set against the dramatic painted hills. After a photo op against the adobe "Dior" backdrop (and a few margaritas), guests were seated on cushions under bedouin-style tents, with cozy blankets to keep warm with the setting sun. 

Set to a live drumbeat, Churi's first cruise outing nodded to Monsieur Dior, who was inspired by the primitive Lascaux rock paintings for a 1951 collection. But of course, she put her own spin on it.

The designer has a way with headgear (note the berets from the spring 2017 collection that Bella Hadid, Jaime King and others have been wearing) and for this show, it was all about the flat-top hat, worn with knits emblazoned with primitive symbols, classic Dior blazers and wild furs like the one worn by Rihanna at the show.

Chiuri carried over the full, long feminine skirts from previous collections that are becoming a signature, but instead of rendering them in delicate ballet tulle embroidered with tarot symbols, they were prairie styles in dusty silk-satins emblazoned with ancient primitive symbols of horses, deer and oxen, hand prints and sequin embroideries inspired by the writings of Vicki Noble. On the models' feet? Lace-up flat boots perfect for a Western adventure.

All together, it was a welcome and wild detour for French luxury fashion, and a smart next chapter to Chiuri's Dior revolution.

The sunset cast a magical spell with the Western landscape in the background. After the finale, the party started in force, with tacos, quinoa bowls and a serenade by Solange. "I think we're going to see a lot more fashion shows in L.A.," said stylist Tanya Gill, who works with Jane Fonda, among others. "Because look at this, it's all about the experience."

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