Dior Cruise 2019 runway show in Chantilly, France
Fashion Week

Dior Cruise 2019: Equestrian Couture with a Mexican Twist

Step into Maria Grazia Chiuri's Diorodeo, where skinny jeans and helmets are replaced by full skirts and straw hats.
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Since joining Dior in 2016, Maria Grazia Chiuri has been devoted to weaving a story with feminist overtones for the venerated Maison, one that involves many a strong woman from all walks of life. Dior's Spring/Summer 2018 collection celebrated the feminist artist Niki Saint Phalle, while the Autumn/Winter 2018 collection paid tribute to the sexually liberated student protestors of the French youth in the 1960s. Chiuri made no exception for Cruise 2019.

This season, Dior's Artistic Director looked to the traditional, all-women horseback riders of Mexico (also known as the escaramuzas) for inspiration. 

Like Chiuri, the escaramuzas do things differently. First off, these women participate in in the Mexican national horseriding sport known as charrería, which up until recently was reserved only for male riders. 

The escaramuzas also know nothing about the stiff denim and bulky helmets worn by their Western contemporaries. Instead, they compete in rodeos while gracefully dressed in lace and embroidered frocks, complete with extravagant skirts and large hats.

That silhouette formed the basis of Chiuri's resort collection, in which she gave the hyper-feminine uniform of the Mexican horseback riders a contemporary update. The ample skirts were worn with fitted Bar jackets that accentuated the narrowness of the waist, and contrasted with tooled leather belts and black rubber boots — a juxtaposition meant to give the collection a tougher edge.

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The collection placed an emphasis on lace and embroidery. 

Lace isn't something exclusive to the escaramuzas' heritage. "This kind of tradition of embroidery is part of my culture, which comes from southern Italy where my father was born, but also in the south of France, as in South America," said Chiuri to WWD.

Chantilly lace was found all throughout the collection, whether as the single, flowing layer of an ephemeral dress, or in the pleated flounces of a tiered skirt.

That's not all: Chiuri gave the romantic pattern a modern update by having it laser-cut out of leather instead. It was then used to create lace-effect sweatshirts and strapless dresses, continuing the aforementioned juxtaposition.

Chiuri also alluded to Dior's French heritage with the toile de Jouy pattern. 

While the classic French pattern traditionally depicts peaceful pastoral scenes, Chiuri's modernized version of the toile de Jouy featured wild animals — think tigers, serpents and other such threatening beasts. 

The print was found on the surfaces of cotton jackets, button-up shirts and skirts. It was also featured prominently on Dior's new It-bag, the Book Tote. 

Chantilly was the perfect backdrop for the Dior Cruise 2019 show.

The French town not only boasts a rich history of lacemaking — in fact, Chantilly is world-renowned for the delicate fabric — but it is also home to the Great Stables of the Chateau of Chantilly, which was where Dior's equestrian-themed collection was unveiled.

The show was made all the more symbolic with the presence of an eight-woman escaramuzas team that was specially flown in from Mexico. Perched upon white horses and dressed head-to-toe in Dior (of course), the riders opened and closed the show with a performance on the manège at the centre of the catwalk.

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Discover the entire Dior Cruise 2019 collection below:

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