NEW YORK – Leave it to a French fashion house to turn a trip to Brooklyn into a glamorous experience. With Dior at the helm, its Cruise 2015 presentation held Wednesday night at Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Duggal Greenhouse was precisely that, a captivating evening that came off without a hitch for an audience teeming with clients and Hollywood A-listers.
During February’s New York Fashion Week, Alexander Wang’s show in the same venue resulted in traffic snarls amid the tangle of narrow surrounding streets, followed quickly by a tirade of grousing on social media from editors and VIPs alike. Dior likely took lessons from that well-documented experience, not only reaching out to New York Water Taxi to secure speedy ferry service from midtown Manhattan, but also bedecking the taxicab-yellow boats with custom Dior seat covers, bars stocked with French champagne and waiters in retro sailor uniforms embellished with Dior-logo patches. Upon disembarking, the 1,000-plus guests were greeted with a cocktail reception featuring beach-style seating and an army of servers bearing silver trays. (Wait a minute, was this Brooklyn or Saint-Tropez?)
Once the Duggal Greenhouse doors opened, Rihanna (in pink satin Dior) led a coterie of entrance makers: Marion Cotillard, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Allison Williams, Olivia Palermo, Leelee Sobieski, Helena Christensen, Margot Robbie, Jessica Seinfeld and Christian Louboutin were among those in the front row, joining Christian Dior CEO Sidney Toledano, LVMH scion Delphine Arnault and what seemed like hundreds of clients to view Raf Simons’ artful take on Cruise 2015. It wasn’t noted on the invitation, but "wear your splashiest Dior" was the night’s unspoken dress code; one attendee remarked it was unlikely that she had ever seen so many Lady Dior bags -- in every size, color and iteration -- gathered under one roof.
FROM LEFT: Marion Cotillard, Allison Williams and Margot Robbie
Less than 24 hours earlier, Simons explained that it was silk scarves -- or, in French parlance, le carre -- found in the Dior archives that largely inspired the French fashion house's Cruise 2015 collection, while the allure of Brooklyn and the notion of a strong New York woman also were swimming in his mind. “I wanted to deal with [the carre] in a different way,” he told Women's Wear Daily on Tuesday. “Not as a styling element around the neck. I wanted to see how we can use that as an element [of design], and see how I could deal with prints and flowers in a different way.” And why Brooklyn? Simons fell in love with the grit-meets-glamour of the Navy Yard during a recent trip, while he likewise desired, he said, “to touch on elements of Dior history, but also link to what I feel when I am in New York.”
To that end, Simons played with layering and asymmetrical placement of breezy, carre-like panels, most successfully employed in organza dresses in bright tones of citrus yellow and orange, while the vivid floral prints so often found in Dior scarves were mixed with stripes and tweeds to create modernist dresses in which the mashup of prints and textures was tempered by the minimalist lines. Meanwhile, the volume Christian Dior once employed in his iconic Bar jacket was explored here in high-waisted skirts that embraced the curve of the feminine ideal (the jacket was cropped at the waist), while the details and fabrications seemed more menswear-inspired to create an artful yin and yang.
Most beautiful was the a group of sleek satin gowns, in which cunningly draped bodices in vibrant brushstroke prints were joined with skirts in inky black, equalizing notions of artistry, romance and a tinge of sex appeal in one gown. Ultimately it was a highly confident collection from Simons, whose deft hand has quickly found favor among U.S. clients and the fashion industry alike: On June 2, the Council of Fashion Designers of America will present Simons with its International prize at its annual CFDA Fashion Awards, an honor all the more impressive considering that Simons has been Dior's creative director for only two years.
The 66-look show concluded with Simons’ bow at exactly 8 p.m. -- again, this was likely no accident, but considered timing. Once back on the ferries, jaded New Yorkers as well as out-of-town guests couldn’t help but be enchanted by the sunset view of midtown Manhattan, the lights of legendary buildings welcoming us as the sky tinged into a purple twilight. If you had told us Dior had ordered this special effect, chances are we wouldn’t have been surprised.