At the Dior Cruise 2024 show in Mexico City, it rained, but the show did go on, unsensationally
Dior chose the wrong day for their cruise show in Mexico City. It rained. While the international guests sat sheltered from the shower, the model had to walk in the open—in the courtyard of los Pasantes of the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, where the subject of Maria Grazia Chiuri’s inspiration Frida Kahlo went to school to study art in the 1920s (it’s now a museum)—and let the heavy clouds do their thing. We do not known if the models’ contract allowed them to continue working alfresco, even when the weather is clearly inclement, but the girls sure looked unhappy, as if they were under the rain against their wishes. At the Jil Sander presentation during the label’s spring/summer 2023 show last September, they knew they could not avoid the rainfall of that day. When the time came and the clouds could not hold back, the models were each given an umbrella to saunter in the downpour. No such luck for those walking for Dior. They carried on calmly, the clothes seemingly impervious to the water.
As with the Dior cruise 2023 shown in Seville, Spain last June, or the fall 2023 show in India two months ago, the latest cruise collection left you in no doubt as to which country the maison is paying homage to. Not that doing so is a bad thing, but, increasingly, these shown-in-distant lands collections, conceived to reflect local aesthetical traditions, as well as to showcase their crafts are just exercises to let the indigenous voice do much of the talking. While supporting those craftspeople whose work would otherwise not enjoy the platform that is synonymous with Dior’s marketing might can be viewed as corporate social responsibility of sort, Maria Grazia Chiuri’s dalliances with folksy dress have been, at best, surface treatment. Oftentimes, they could be merchandise destined for gift shops, for tourists who want a pinch of local flavour—holiday clothes that the Sex and the City girls would wear when exploring exotic bazaars or partying the night away. They are mostly alluring in the settings they are shown in. Take them home, and they are just holiday finds.
The clothes Ms Chiuri sent out that wet evening were not habiliments that museums would queue to buy, but unsurprising canvases on which to adorn the decorative applications of Méxican dress that she found appealing. The silhouettes too were familiar—traditionally and safely feminine, to the extent that some appear mumsy, such as the tented blouses with butterfly (a motif) sleeves (reimagined Mexican blusas?) that brings to mind the seu kor krachao (literally basket-collared blouse) that elderly Thai women in the countryside love wearing, especially in the pre-monsoon heat. There, too, were sundresses and summer frocks with puff sleeves that would not look out of place at Kate Spade, augmenting Dior’s penchant for accessible styles, especially for the cruise season. They would not be out of place in The Love Boat. To make the collection seemingly more modern, or Euro-urban, Ms Chiuri included sportif elements and denim separates that felt token and torpid.
The collection was, therefore, not agog with the exuberance and colour of, say Tehuana, as one might imagine. Which meant this was less transportive than it might have been. Some of the brand’s enthusiasts called the Dior cruise collection a “cultural celebration”. Fashion is so global now that it must go as far as it could to spotlight dead artists or lesser-known sartorial tribes, complete with grand narratives told through the lens of zesty feminism. But did the Mexicans really need the Europeans to momentary celebrate their culture or promote their artisan traditions? The thing about luxury brands supporting these crafts and the hands behind them: It is usually a one-time, one-season affair. After Dior left the colegio, will the clothes that were shown there be remembered? Or just the rain?
Screen shot (top) Dior/YouTube. Photos: Dior