The name Christian Dior doesn’t conjure up images of the American countryside. It reminds most people of a new France emerging from the rubble of World War II. That original perception may be about to change. Based on Dior’s Cruise 2018 Show last weekend, the brand seems to be loosening its Parisian focus to embrace Western Americana as a new favorite aesthetic. Unexpected as this new direction is for the brand, it’s nothing new when it comes to fashion trends. Western Chic has been a popular choice since last fall’s New York Fashion Week. Looks like 2017 is the year to fill out your wardrobe with a shade of brown and don a Stetson or some other classic country hat. If Western Chic has worried about looking old-fashioned, let Dior’s Sauvage collection convince you otherwise. Here’s how to pull off Georgia O’Keeffe chic without looking dusty or worn.
GRAB A COWGIRL HAT
Many different outfits debuted at Dior’s Cruise 2018 Show, but every design had one thing in common. Every runway model was topped off with a flat-brimmed, Calamity Jane-style hat. This wide-brimmed head gear immediately set the tone for everything that followed. Whether light straw or dark leather, it was clear after the first three models that we were watching a Western Chic show fashioned after a mixture of classic 50s cowgirls and light brown 70s chic. Lucky for you, this is a pretty easy piece of fashion to get behind. All you have to do is find a wide-brimmed hat with a neck-strap to dangle under your chin like a necklace. If you want, fasten a trendy little pendant to the end of your strap. When you’re embracing Western Chic, hats and necklace blend into one.
THROW ON A PONCHO
Of all the throws and coats displayed by Dior last weekend, the most notable were the ponchos. There were many varieties demonstrating the seasonal and fashionable breadth of this underestimated piece. For cold weather, find a thick fur style that will look fantastic while keeping you warm. Most of the furs at the Cruise 2018 Show featured designs from Native American cave paintings adding a rustic element to a luxurious product. There was also a cowhide poncho covered with sketches of Western animals like the long-horned steer. Dior’s new ponchos demonstrated the brand’s new philosophy of transforming haute couture pieces using rough-hewn, back-country designs and fabrics. When you’re building your Western Chic wardrobe, remember this central principle. It will help you craft unified outfits that are guaranteed to work.
USE LOTS OF WHITE
Brown and tan are usually the colors of choice when it comes to a Western-inspired wardrobe. When it comes to 2017 Western Chic, that old color palette is being replaced with fresh colors that usually sit at the fringe of Wild West fashion. Dior’s Cruise 2018 Show featured dozens of scarlet red dresses, brightly striped skirts and tops, and a surprising amount of predominantly white outfits. These light-colored dresses and eggshell tops harkened back to high-class country music attire like Elvis’s iconic shiny suit. Though nowhere near that gold-infused look, these white designs do link Wild West fashion with Southern Chic in a way never quite seen before. It totally works too. You should definitely be trying out your own combinations of Southern bell and cowgirl style before the year is out.
A MORE SOMBER WEST
In the past, Western fashion was either playful or simple. You dressed up in cowboy boots and a cowhide poncho to go square-dancing or attend a costume party. There was this feeling a Western outfit was a celebration of wild mythical times, not nearly something trendy and haute couture. With Dior’s new collection, it looks like fashion will be taking wide-brimmed hats and leather tassels far more seriously in the months to come. This serious tone is reflected in the prints chosen for the show. Rather than feathers and wild horses, Dior chose to focus on the somber beauty of death in the desert as represented by the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe. Trust me. In 2017, leaving the house dressed like Annie Oakley is no joke.
Dior debuted all these new trends on a sandy beach outside of Los Angeles. Far from its classic Parisian home, the brand is ready to forge a new trail that celebrates the good and the serious in traditional American fashion. Hop on this Conestoga wagon before it rolls away. As the most compelling example of Western Chic to date, it’s a trend you need to try.
— Timothy Vest