Today, Dior are staging their cruise show at the historic house – but it’s not for the first time...
In a matter of hours, Dior will put on a show at Oxfordshire’s Blenheim Palace before an audience of esteemed guests, specially shipped in on an ornate Dior Express train. Marking the first cruise collection since Raf Simons’ departure from the house last October, this is, in fact, the third Dior show to be staged at Blenheim Palace since the first in 1954.
Today, the 18th century Baroque architecture of the UNESCO World Heritage Site will provide a striking backdrop for Dior’s 2017 Cruise collection, just two days before Gucci show at London’s Westminster Abbey – luckily enough for us, it seems that England’s historic buildings are central to this season’s cruise catwalk schedule. Here, we give you a rundown of Dior’s historic moments at Blenheim Palace.
CHRISTIAN DIOR HOSTED A SHOW AT THE PALACE IN 1954
Having played host to Christian Dior himself in 1954 – who was invited to present his couture collection by Blenheim Palace’s chatelaine, the then-Duchess of Marlborough, in aid of the Red Cross – the French fashion house has a historic connection with the Oxfordshire country home. Presenting 100 couture pieces – flown from Paris to England by Monsieur Dior himself – worn by 14 models, the show hosted 1600 guests who each paid five guineas for the privilege of attending.
THE DUTCHESS OF MARLBOROUGH FIXED THE WHOLE THING WITH DIOR HIMSELF
Then home to the 25-year-old Lady Rosemary Spencer-Churchill, it was her mother Mary who suggested the idea of a Dior show at the palace. “She went to see Dior in Paris and fixed the whole thing up with him,” recalls the now 85-year old Lady Rosemary. “The duchess went dressed in her uniform as a General of the Red Cross, which Dior loved, even though she was not considered a fashion plate.” Of course Dior, an avid Anglophile, was in favour of the idea and the show was confirmed to be held in favour of the British Red Cross – for which they raised over £9,000, or £220,000 in today’s money. On the day of the event, Red Cross nurses stood in a line at the side of the catwalk wearing full uniform.
YVES SAINT LAURENT WAS INVITED TO SHOW AT THE PALACE IN 1958
Just a year after Dior’s untimely death, the house of Dior returned to Blenheim Palace in 1958 under the creative direction of Dior’s former assistant, a 22-year-old Yves Saint Laurent. Invited by the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough to show once again in aid of the Red Cross, Saint Laurent presented a 136-garment collection on 16 models before a number of foreign diplomats from Belgium, Burma, Laos, Luxemburg, and Panama.
THERE’S A DIOR EVENING GOWN NAMED AFTER BLENHEIM
A particularly memorable dress on Dior’s 1954 runway was “La Robe Blenheim”, a pink satin evening gown designed to mark the occasion presented, to the sound of La Marseillaise, at the latter end of the show. Later re-imagined by Saint Laurent in 1958 as a tribute to his master, it’s likely we could witness a 21st-century reinterpretation of “La Robe Blenheim” today.
Stay tuned for full show coverage this afternoon.