The traditional clothing of the Mexican cowgirl is the theme of a new collection by the European luxury goods firm Christian Dior.
The fashion house’s creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, has drawn her inspiration for the 2019 Cruise collection directly from female equestrians in the traditional rodeo called charrería.
With elaborate embroidery, cotton lace and sombreros worn low, many looks in the collection echo the traditional Mexican dress of the escaramuzas charras, as the riders are called.
While the traditional herding and competitive riding known as charreria dates back centuries, escaramuza is a relatively newer development. The escaramuza style is a tribute to women warriors of the past: the Adelitas, who fought in the 1910 Revolution.
Dressed in suede suits and lavishly embroidered cotton dresses with silver pins and leather-strapped sombreros, escaramuza teams perform intricate choreographies as a group of up to eight riders at a time, like an equestrian ballet.
At a time when critics like to cry “cultural appropriation,” wrote Jenni Avins on Quartz today, Chiuri opted to pay a respectful tribute to the charro custom, melding the traditions of Mexican dress with Dior’s French heritage.
Charras had a prominent part during the presentation of the Cruise collection Thursday night in the outdoor stables of an 18th-century French chateau as an eight-woman escaramuza team flown in from Mexico opened and closed the show in custom Dior regalia.
“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,” Chiuri said. “In some way, I think that all the south has the same language. When we speak about lace, when we speak about embroidery, it’s such a part of different countries that it’s very difficult to understand where they come from.”
Chiuri is Dior’s first female creative director and since taking the reins in 2016 she has made strong women part of her storytelling, paying tribute to Peggy Guggenheim, Georgia O’Keefe, and the sexually liberated 1960s student protesters with her designs.
Thursday’s show got a bit wet for the models when it began pouring with rain. Although guests were under cover the runway was not but the models, adopting the tough attitude of the collection, winked at the audience while their sodden ponytails flicked water as they walked, wrote Jess Cartner-Morley in The Guardian.
Said Chiuri: “Life is a rodeo. You have to learn to stay in the saddle.”