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It was all aboard the Diorient Express, when the French fashion house transported guests including Kate Mara, Kate Beckinsale, Elizabeth Olsen and Kiernan Shipka from London’s Victoria Station to Oxfordshire’s Blenheim Palace for its cruise show on a vintage train decked out in Dior. Everything from the porters to the plates were stamped with the name.
With cruise on the move — Chanel in Cuba! Louis Vuitton in Brazil! — Dior chose possibly the most grand location of all in an 18th century palace. It’s the third time Dior has shown here, with avowed Anglophile Christian Dior bringing a collection in 1954 and his successor, a young Yves Saint Laurent, following in 1958.
“I think it’s great that Dior have come all this way to take their history to heart and it’s brilliant that they’ve brought it over here instead of just having it in Paris. It’s an exciting adventure for all those Frenchies to come to the beautiful British countryside,” joked the bilingual Gemma Arterton, who is soon starring in a play about Joan of Arc and has two French-language films coming out later this year.
And while the sky matched the brand’s signature color, even the grey skies and pouring rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the guests, who were greeted by a band in full redcoat regalia.
“This weather is amazing,” countered Juno Temple. “It makes it feel quite gothic.” Temple was “twinning” with Olsen, who pointed out their coordinating sequined and studded outfits as the two swapped phone numbers.
For Mara it was a change from her other recent travels. “My sister [Rooney Mara] and I went to Liberia with the Humane Society to learn about what is going on with chimps that have been abandoned by the New York Blood Center,” she said. The sister team are trying to raise awareness about a group of chimps that were used in medical experiments and then abandoned on an island. “It’s really a passion of mine,” she said.
“But this is unlike anything I’ve ever been to,” she added. “I’ve been to some spectacular places, but this takes the prize.”
While the show notes said the collection was inspired by post-war style, nary a New Look was in view, with the silhouette longer and leaner, save a few sculptured shoulders. The collection was a wild variation of looks and styles, patterns and textures, with interim designers Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux seeming to simultaneously hit all the buttons in the hopes that one will get them to the right stop.
It was a turnaround from their fall runway show in February, which held to a mostly monochromatic palette, with prints as varied as British equestrian to Asian bird and branch motifs.
Delicate tea dresses were among the strongest looks, with red and yellow silk dresses inspiring sighs and energizing the audience. Those looks will prove to be quite wearable, as will the gold-heeled boots, for the brand’s most commercial collection.
ON THE RUNWAY: Models in looks 9, 19 and 50. (Photos: Getty Images)
Haley Bennett, sitting with power stylist Jessica Paster, was seen sorting through sketches and chatting with Dior staff just after the show and selecting looks for an upcoming event, with looks nine and 19 among her favorites.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the house, with Rihanna unveiling her sunglasses collaboration, model of the moment Bella Hadid being named their new face of beauty and the opening of its Cannes and London flagship stores.
The show was part of a three-day extravaganza that started with a Mayfair bar being turned into The Lady Dior pub — complete with Dior temporary-tattooed waiters, coasters and hand towels — to a lavish afterparty at the cavernous three-story Loulou’s private club. The Dior didn’t stop at the door, with branded tarot cards and an aura specialist giving readings in a booth called “Diora.”
For all the effort of bringing Hollywood to Oxford, both Shipka, wearing a tactile jacket from the 2012 couture collection, and The Weeknd, who was on hand to support girlfriend Hadid, were planning for post-show vacations. Next stop? Paris.
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