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Last year Maria Grazia Chiuri took Dior to the desert; this year she brought a bit of the desert home.
An hour outside of Paris (or three in Friday evening traffic), Chateau de Chantilly was the setting for the Resort 2019 collection called Diorodeo, held inside Europe’s largest stables.
Inspired by the Mexican tradition of Escaramuza, a choreographed equestrian sport performed by women in traditional costumes, Chiuri brought over a band of female riders from Phoenix, Arizona.
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If only they’d stayed dry.
But springtime in Paris can be unpredictable, and any hope of clear skies disappeared as guests started arriving at the show. Editors scrambled for umbrellas and seats out of the splash zone. By the time the riders bounded out on their white horses, it was torrential. Still they stayed, dancing and circling a ribboned pole, then sitting stoically in the deluge while workers valiantly squeegeed the runway.
It was either terrific luck or pure genius on Grazia’s part, but the models were walking in lace-up rubber rain boots with star-print soles. There were dresses too, and they were fantastic.
It was an extension of the Western-inspired look Chiuri showed in Calabasas last year, only done here with a touch of European equestrian primness. The full tulle skirts that have become her signature were embroidered this season with prints from traditional French toiles, reinterpreted with jungle scenes of tigers, snakes and monkeys. Trousers were short and loose, with the house’s Bar jackets adding structure, and white shirts with black ties offering a masculine touch.
Chiuri’s success with accessories, particularly defining the hat of each season with patent newsboy caps and revolutionary berets being recent hits, continued here with the escaramuza-inspired toppers with long brims which gently folded up at back.
The mood backstage was described as defeated when the rain started, but defiant by the time the music went on. The models were singing and chanting before hitting the runway and encouraging each other. It fit with Chiuri’s glam girl power, which she evoked in show notes as the “power of these united and supportive women.”
Paris Jackson arrived in a patchwork dress and red velvet sandals, but pulled a Kristen Stewart-in-Cannes move and removed her high heels before entering the show space barefoot. The vocal animal rights activist then stood up and left as soon as the horses entered the arena, appearing to be upset by the large crowd and loud music.
Alexa Chung, Arizona Muse and French star Melanie Thierry sat front row hiding under strategically placed umbrellas.
The show ended a two-day Dior extravaganza, that had the brand taking over an art deco-era restaurant in Montmarte and turning it into a karaoke cabaret, and hosting a lunch on a boat in the Seine. Friday night’s afterparty transformed the stable hall into a cozy candlelit retreat, complete with beds.
Stranger Things stars Charlie Heaton and Natalia Dyer took time off from filming the third season to spend the holiday weekend in Paris. “They let us out every once in a while,” Dyer joked, wearing what she called a “punk bride” look. “It’s a total cliché word, but it’s romantic,” she said of France. “That’s the thing, just being here for an American, it’s romantic walking around the little streets, it’s romantic walking along the Seine, getting some wine and some bread.”
Anya Taylor-Joy, who had optimistically dressed for summer in a blush satin sundress, added: “The rain certainly made it dramatic.”
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