There’s more to California than endless sunshine, wellness retreats and people who look like extras from The Hills. Maria Grazia Chiuri, ever the thinking woman, knows this. Taking Dior to the dusty desert lands of Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve in Calabasas, she saw an opportunity; to draw inspiration from the house’s archives, specifically the 1951 Lascaux collection inspired by ancient cave paintings discovered in southwestern France. Yes, we know. They’re not even on the same continent, but there’s an undeniable commonality in the terrain. Natural, wild, remote. Like our art-inclined ancestors, Chiuri wanted to make her mark and record her thoughts so others may understand her thinking.
We heard her loud and clear. This season, Chiuri was all about getting back to nature. Those primitive paintings, in their most literal form, found their way onto dresses, skirts and ponchos while abstracted versions appeared on longline knits, coats and separates. These were interspersed with motifs of flowers, birds and vines alongside the ever-present tarot imagery – something that is fast becoming a house signature. Magic and spirituality may be otherworldly, but they are inherently human phenomena – and you don’t get much more natural than that. An around about way of getting back to (human) nature, perhaps, but certainly a beautiful one. Colours were rich and organic in shades of tan, rust and ochre, as if they were taken straight from the surrounding landscape, while the fabrics were rustic; raffia, suede, fur, wool. Materials you could gather from the wild. The collection’s shapes and details spoke of Native America, prairies and The Wild West – think ethereal, tiered dresses, long double-faced coats, ponchos and lots of fringing. And then think all of that worn at the same time. Hey, if you’re getting back to nature, you’ve gotta stay practical. In fact, while these clothes were beautiful and exquisitely detailed, you couldn’t deny their wearability. While IRL you may not throw on a statement poncho with your New Look midi dress (although, you know, go for it), they work on their own with your current wardrobe. Those bohemian knits and instarsia furs? The natural friends of denim. The romantic, waisted dresses – while undoubtedly cool with chunky boots – would be transformed into the perfect formal pieces when worn with elegant sling backs. It’s about finding your sartorial niche in the thicket of the collection.
Chiuri transposed another facet of her inspiration onto the Californian catwalk: Georgia O’Keefe. The American artist, an accidental style icon, while herself a resident of Mexico for much of her life, you couldn’t deny the parity between her desert paintings and the runway’s stark, mountainous backdrop. You feel it’s the sort of place O’Keefe could have called home, somewhere she could have painted. In fact, judging by the natty Parson hats, belted midi dresses and enveloping monochrome coats, her presence was felt. The result? A collection that takes a good, hard look at what it means to be American, underneath it all. Underneath the L.A. glamour and chasing ‘The Dream’. It’s about being in touch with the elements that created the land you live on, and having the freedom to express yourself. And if you can do that while wearing exquisitely beautiful Dior, so much the better.
It’s time to go west; forget your troubles, get back to nature – but don’t forget your Dior hat.