Dior 2018 Resort Collection

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Technically the show wasn’t in L.A. it was in Calabasas, the tony suburb in the Valley with famous residents such as the Kardashians. But when guests arrived at the actual venue, shuttled by a military grade supply of SUVs up a dirt mountain road in the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve, and then by a smaller fleet of Gators, they might have thought they were on safari in the desert hills.

This was her biggest moment since arriving as the first female couturier at the house of Dior for spring. Not just because she had an epic set. The collection lived up to it. After two ready-to-wear seasons where she seemed to be getting her bearings, Chiuri’s cruise collection captured the depth, texture and attitude that likely lured Dior to poach her from Valentino in the first place. Did the lineup’s overall look, marked by nipped Bar jackets and robes over full midiskirts inspired by earth mother muses including Georgia O’Keeffe and Vicki Noble, bear resemblance to the aesthetic she and Pierpaolo Piccioli established at Valentino? Yes. Is that always going to be a strike against her?

There’s no denying that in a very short span of time, she’s made an impact on Dior, most obviously in the branding and reinvigoration of the house logo on dress straps, bags, sling-back kitten heels, bracelets, underwear and T-shirts.

Chiuri let the location, the desert landscape and natural California elements, inspire the collection, which was flush with handcrafted details, artisanal touches fur, shearling, feathers, fringe — and rich desert colors. She obliged house heritage by finding a concrete California connection to Monsieur Dior, who visited San Francisco in 1947, and a more tenuous tie to the look she wanted to pursue: Dior’s 1951 Ovale line included prints inspired by the primitive etchings in the Lascaux cave in Southwestern France, which Chiuri reworked for cruise. Sauvage referenced the famous Dior perfume Eau Sauvage.

But mostly Chiuri used her own interests to drive the lineup, gathering a collection of muses that dovetailed with the feminist spirit she’s infused the house with beginning with the spring “We should all be feminists” T-shirts. Photos of Georgia O’Keeffe by Ansel Adams, Cecil Beaton and Philippe Halsman were all over Chiuri’s mood board. She had seen “Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern” at the Brooklyn Museum, and co-opted her independent, desert-dwelling attitude and personal style for the collection. Almost every look was worn with O’Keeffe’s signature headgear: a bandanna under a wide-brim straw hat by Stephen Jones. Feminist tarot card sketches by Vicki Noble, a feminist shamanic healer and author, known for “Motherpeace Tarot,” were another key motif.