On Friday, while Americans were getting ready to kick off summer 2018, Dior kicked off the first of three Resort 2019 shows to take place here in France in the coming week, the other two being Louis Vuitton and Gucci (Chanel threw a seaworthy Resort show and bash earlier this month). While the weather here has been picture perfect, the skies opened up for the Dior show, which was staged in a torrential downpour. Also inopportune? The start time. It was scheduled post-workday, just as half of Paris was leaving for the Fête des Mères weekend, and the drive out to Chantilly, which should have been an hour at best, took two and a half instead.
Just as the weary travelers were wondering if they would make the 8 p.m. outing, the Domaine de Chantilly came into view like a mirage. Billed as “Diorodeo,” the show paid homage to the Mexican horsewomen known as the escaramuzas, horseback performers who defied Mexican tradition and won the right to join the normally male-dominated sport. It also referenced Chilean author Isabel Allende’s novel, The House of Spirits, which stars independent female characters. Taking place in the Grandes Ecuries du Domaine de Chantilly in a riding ring decorated with Maypole ribbons, the show had front-row guests gladly opting for second and third-row seats to avoid being pummeled by rain.
The side-saddle-mounted riders wore custom-made white dresses with black embroidery and Stephen Jones sombreros. It was beautiful to witness, though at times, due to the pouring rain and pounding soundtrack, the horses were visibly spooked. There was an awkward feeling in the air. It proved to be too much for Paris Jackson, who got up and left her seat halfway through. A known vegan who grew up at Neverland Ranch, she was obviously uncomfortable with the scene.
Fashion has been known to appropriate other art forms and it isn’t always a success. Artistic director Maria Grazi Chiuri’s heart was in the right place, sharing with her guests a sport she witnessed last summer on a trip to Mexico. But at a time when the fashion industry is confronting its less-than-politically-correct tendencies, this slightly missed the mark.
That being said, Chuiri didn’t disappoint on the fashion front, staying true to her real-clothes-for-real-women agenda. Boxy western-style and field jackets in a new take on Toile de Jouy, pleated skirts, riding pants, and shorts opened the show. Bar jackets worn over full skirts were ready for business, and a leather lace became a fantastic white skirt and top. Wide leather cummerbunds accentuated waistlines, as did bustiers over full skirts that ran throughout.
The theme gave Chiuri a chance to show off her love of embroidery. This time, the needlework was inspired by traditional south-of-the-border folkloric designs. It made for some standout evening dresses, all of which had a traditional Spanish vibe but were based in most cases on a classic 1948 design by Mr. Dior called the Drags. More Stephen Jones hats, generally takes on sombreros and fedoras, and rubber hunting boots gave the ladies an edge. The Dior saddlebag also took on a Mexican-handcraft look.
As the rain continued to fall, the crowd was moved to the tastefully decorated stables draped in white papel picado streamers. Still wearing their custom dresses, the escaramuzas took in their first fashion show, which most likely lived up to the reputation. Beautiful people in beautiful clothes in a beautiful setting—with a dose of drama, of course.