Los Angeles (AFP) - The glamour of France's fashion industry hit Los Angeles Thursday as Dior lured a bevy of stars including Charlize Theron and Rihanna to the Santa Monica mountains for its latest runway show.
The couture house's 2018 cruise collection presentation saw around 800 guests decamping to a remote reserve on the edge of the upscale suburb of Calabasas, home to Jennifer Lopez, the Kardashian-Jenners and much of Hollywood's A list.
Around 50 models showcased a wardrobe with a music festival vibe inspired by Lascaux cave paintings, painter Georgia O'Keeffe and feminist shamanic healer Vicki Noble, with plenty of pleated skirts and bolero hats on show.
The remote location for the runway show was chosen by Maria Grazia Chiuri, who was lured from Valentino in July last year to become Dior's first female creative director of women's haute couture and accessories.
As the company celebrates its 70th anniversary, Chiuri has been introducing a more modern, rock 'n' roll look to the house's fashion offering, exemplified by her $710 "We Should All Be Feminists" t-shirt inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's essay and TEDx talk of the same name.
"Christian Dior in 1947 came to Los Angeles, only two years after the war, to show his collection. So we decided on the anniversary to come back," Chiuri told AFP.
"Normally when you think about LA, the first thing is celebrities, Hollywood, red carpets but I think there is another aspect, the natural aspect -- open spaces. Many people love this place -- also Mr Dior -- because California is in some ways a paradise."
Dior took over Santa Monica seafood restaurant Gladstone's on the eve of the show for a glitzy beachside party welcoming celebrities including "Slumdog Millionaire" star Frieda Pinto, and actresses Kiernan Shipka ("Mad Men"), Jaime King ("Sin City") and Juno Temple ("Vinyl").
- Femininity -
"What's not to love about Dior? I can't wait to see what's going to be the concept of the new collection. I'm excited," Barbadian pop superstar Rihanna, 29, who showcased an off-the-shoulder brown fur coat, said ahead of the show.
"It's always a pleasure... to wear Dior. For one, it's expensive and, two, it's really well made and it's always something that helps you express your femininity in the highest level."
The singer stayed for half an hour, leaving immediately after the show and leaving singing duties to Beyonce's younger sister Solange Knowles, 30, who played a rousing set at the after-show party.
Other stars at the glitzy bash included Oscar-winning "Room" and "King Kong" actress Brie Larson, Beyonce's former Destiny's Child bandmate Kelly Rowlands, singer Nick Jonas and British socialite Lady Victoria Hervey.
Long derided for flashiness or faded grunge, Los Angeles is increasingly being described as an upcoming center of global fashion.
Saint Laurent showcased its autumn-winter men's collection and part of its women's range in Hollywood last year while Louis Vuitton presented its cruise collection in the city and Burberry presented at the Griffith Observatory in 2015.
Guests for the Dior show boarded shuttles from Beverly Hills and Santa Monica to the wilderness of the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve, around an hour away.
- 'Rich with culture' -
The meadows there were used from the 1920s to 1950s for filming Westerns and other movies, including "Gone with the Wind" (1939), "They Died with Their Boots On" (1941) and "Adventures of Don Juan" (1948).
"I think it was beautiful. It was really inspiring and it felt rich with culture and texture and somewhat other-worldliness," said Oscar-winning South African actress Theron, 41, who currently stars in high-octane car movie "The Fate of the Furious."
"It was really beautiful yet super feminine. I loved that it had some real weight to it. It felt like it was layered with many complexities. It was a really beautiful job."
The show came with the Christian Dior Couture brand about to be taken over in a $13.1 billion deal by French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
LVMH already owns Parfums Christian Dior and the transaction, set to go through in June, would simplify its relationship with the company, handing it control of the haute couture, leather, men's and women's ready-to-wear and shoe businesses.
"In terms of having the plant growing, we have the roots, and we want the tree to continue growing and have nice leaves and flowers," Sidney Toledo, Dior's chief executive since 1998, told AFP.
"This is why any time, whatever we do -- the collections, the presentations, the people together -? has to be positive for the growth of the company, not only short term but long term."