Dior has taken the wraps off its sumptuous new Bond Street flagship, designed by architect Peter Marino, in a moved timed to co-incide with the staging of its Resort (or Cruise) 2017 catwalk show at Blenheim Palace.
The four-storey store is largely realised in various shades of grey and silver with shots of pastel pink and striking turquoise light features.
Stand-out installations include sculptures by Tony Cragg and Rado Kirov and a collaboration with Mark Quinn in the form of a collection of bags featuring his work. Three private shopping suites, a shoe gallery and a “demi-measure” area for Dior Homme all feature in the store, which took four years to complete.
Speaking to Vogue on the opening of the store Dior chief executive Sidney Toledano said it was worth the wait and took the opportunity to have a swipe at the “see now, buy now” wave (showing in-season for immediate availability) washing through fashion.
“[Customers] don’t come here just to buy a dress, or to buy a bag. Frankly, if it was just a commodity, then you have the internet, fast retailing, so-called see-now, buy-now, things like that – but we give luxury,” he said,
Toledano’s words echo those of François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of rival luxury brand house Kering (Dior is part of LVMH), who said in February that he believed showing in-season “negates the dream of luxury”.
The flagship’s unveiling was timed to co-incide with the showing of Dior’s Resort 2017 collection at Blenheim Palace, which fused an English countryside theme with Paris couture.
Layering and mixed textures and patterns were a key theme with tunics, dresses and skirts styled over slim trousers and slip dresses layered over knits. Clumpy ankle boots were the key footwear look which contrasted against the delicate fabrics of the clothes, which included an English countryside horse “conversational” print that appeared in various guises.
The decision for one of France’s major fashion houses to show such an important collection in a famous English palace at the height of the EU referendum debate could be seen as symbolic (though interestingly Blenheim was build to commemorate victory over the French in the War of the Spanish Succession), but it also references the house’s founder Christian Dior’s love of all things English. Dior himself showed at Blenheim in 1954 and a young Yves Saint Laurent, who took over at the house following Dior’s death, revisited the location in 1958.
Dior is still searching for a new chief designer after Raf Simons quit last year citing the stresses of the workload and the desire to pursue his own projects. (Simons, however, has been hotly tipped to take over at Calvin Klein.) The Resort collection was presented by joint heads of Dior’s studio Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux.
Names in the frame to succeed Simons include Hedi Slimane who recently departed from Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen creative director Sarah Burton, who may be tempted away following the recent departure of McQueen CEO Jonathan Akeroyd, who has joined Versace.