As 20 models in white dresses stared across the colonnaded square of the Jesuit-founded college in Mexico City, fashion had what is usually described as ‘a moment’.
Influential artist Frida Kahlo meets power fashion house Dior’s latest cruise presentation – it was always going to be the perfect storm.
Fittingly, there was an actual storm.
Members of the press with a fondness for pathetic fallacy wondered whether Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri had summoned up the downpour to underline the show’s mood of pretty-versus-practical.
Why did Chiuri pick Mexican-born Kahlo, who died nearly 70 years ago? ‘Because the Frida Kahlo exhibition I saw in Rome when I was growing up was the first I saw by a female artist and it made a huge impression,’ she explained backstage.
A fashion moment: Twenty models in white dresses stared across the colonnaded square of the Jesuit-founded college in Mexico City at the latest Dior show
Incidentally, the location for the show was also the place where Kahlo both studied and met her future partner, the muralist Diego Rivera.
In tribute to Kahlo’s work, which sometimes reflected her (at the time) shocking affairs with both men and women, the Dior collection mixed butterflies and lace collars with mannish smocks.
The white dresses were embroidered with hearts, in reference to one of her works, as well as her trademark red lips, while a pink gown was inspired by a famous Kahlo self-portrait.
But what, you may ask, does a cruise collection have to do with me? Is it not about an extremely wealthy, elite group of customers (no hordes of Instagram influencers in this audience) buying eye-wateringly expensive clothes to wear in exotic locations while the rest of us are deep in midwinter?
Well, yes, were this a lesser pairing then you’d be forgiven for failing to see the knock-on effects. However, this is Dior (arguably one of the most influential fashion houses of the past century) and Frida Kahlo (arguably the 20th century’s most dynamic female artist), and therefore the ripples were always going to extend beyond the arches of the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso.
So, expect the first Kahlo-esque touches to be finding their way on to the high street sooner than you might imagine. A fringed rebozo (rectangular shawl) here, a heavy, floor-length skirt there. Ruby red lips. Monobrows. Butterflies. Oh, and of course plaits.
There’ll be a lot of plaits.