Excerpt by Imogen Fox for The Guardian
If Brexit is top of the agenda in politics, in fashion, it’s Anglophilia that is so hot right now. This week two European powerhouse brands landed in the UK to showcase their Cruise catwalk collections whilst simultaneously professing their love of all things British. On Tuesday, Parisian brand Christian Dior showed its newest collection within the baroque grandeur of the library rooms at Blenheim Palace, and on Thursday Italian brand Gucci will show its haute eccentric collection against the stained glass backdrop of Westminster Abbey. For billion-euro fashion houses, it seems that a love letter to English chic is best expressed with an excess of tweed, beading, glamour and English heritage buildings.
This show, for the label’s Cruise 2017 collection (once literally holiday clothes for the wealthy, now integral to a brand’s bottom line) was the third time Blenheim has played host. In 1958 a young Yves Saint Laurent showed his Dior collection at the palace and before him in 1954 Christian Dior himself brought his rarified salon chic to Blenheim. Christian Dior was a self-proclaimed Anglophile who, after a period spent in the UK, was besotted enough with the country that he is on record, unexpectedly, declaring: “I love English traditions. English politeness, English architecture. I even love English cooking. I dote on yorkshire pudding.”
At the 1954 show at Blenheim, Red Cross nurses, aristocrats and Princess Margaret were among the 1,000 guests. This time around Alexa Chung, Bianca Jagger and the like passed for royalty and if there were any nurses, they were skilfully disguised in extravagantly beaded Dior finery. At the show 60 years ago the mannequins were expected to curtsy to royalty and work the catwalk without turning their backs on Princess Margaret. On the 2017 catwalk models were not expected to do the same for Lady Kitty Spencer, the lone royal front row representative. Guests were transported to the Oxfordshire palace on a specially chartered Orient Express, but alas yorkshire pudding was not on the menu.
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