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Fashion / Style File

The Lore of Dior

Christian Dior Comes Back to Houston

BY // 10.02.15

Another stunning new store has opened in the River Oaks District. It’s Christian Dior day and with the luxe retailer open, PaperCity style editor Francine Ballard gives us a closer look at the new Houston store and the brand itself with an exclusive interview with one of Christian Dior’s most important figures. 

CHRISTIAN DIOR

Stocking: Two stories of leather goods and accessories, fine jewelry and timepieces, women’s ready-to-wear, luxury handbags and shoes.
Luxe Factor: As one of the few remaining true couture fashion houses in France, Dior is considered the crown jewel of LVMH (the world’s largest luxury fashion group) and is part-owned by its chairman, Bernard Arnault. Dior is one of the two original couture ateliers in the world (the other being Chanel).

The brand is steeped in tradition — its namesake designer was hailed as the architect of the feminine silhouette with his New Look in 1947. Ava Gardner, Lauren Bacall, Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe and the Duchess of Windsor all flocked to Dior’s signature style: extravagant proportions and luxurious use of fabric in long, flowing skirts with fitted waists and softly rounded shoulders and hips. Raf Simons, Dior’s newish design czar, has a reputation in the industry for being notoriously mysterious — a deep intellectual who’s reserved, sensitive, private and romantic. As artistic director for the brand, he oversees haute couture, ready-to-wear and accessories.

Dior Houston at River Oaks District takes its inspiration from the original concept of the Paris Avenue Montaigne flagship boutique designed by Peter Marino, with several commissioned pieces for the boutique from notable contemporary artists, including a Rob Wynne installation on mirrored walls, Philippe Montels chain curtains in the shoe salon, Laurent Chauvat tables and a Franck Evennou mirror installation positioned above the antique fireplace in the ready-to-wear salon.

 

Sophie Carre for Dior
Exquisite detail is a given at Dior. (Photograph by Sophie Carre)

On the heels of their re-entrée, Pamela Baxter, president/CEO of Christian Dior Inc., talks exclusively to PaperCity about competition, the must-have accessory for fall and the decision to bring high style to Houston.

Why Houston? Why now?

Houston is one of the most diverse and fastest growing luxury destinations in North America. It is the fourth largest city in the United States, and River Oaks is the wealthiest neighborhood in all of Texas. Houston has the third-largest growth in the luxury segment, making it the perfect location for Dior to open a new boutique. With growing industries such as technology and energy, we are seeing a substantial increase in the demand for luxury. (Since 2012, the number of high-net-worth individuals increased by 18 percent in Houston). Houston’s retail growth is fueled by the city’s rising economy as well as it being a major international hub receiving over two million international tourists each year. In addition to the growing local client, Houston is also a tourist destination for people from Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Are Houston shoppers aligned with the Dior brand?

The Houston client is very sophisticated and appreciates brands with history and heritage — much like the house of Dior, where both Mr. Christian Dior and Raf Simons have drawn inspiration from various forms of art when designing their collections. There is a thriving culture and art scene in Houston with its own opera, ballet, symphony and world-class museums linking the community to both fashion and art. The Houston client is also highly educated when it comes to luxury and demands excellence in the products they choose. Quality and craftsmanship are at the top of their expectations from brands. Dior, being the premier couture house in North America, provides its clients with a unique and modern shopping experience while staying true to Dior’s heritage of timeless luxury and innovation.

So many big brands will be coming in this fall. Do you see this as a positive or negative in terms of competition?

The commitment of many high-fashion brands, in addition to Dior, will solidify River Oaks as Houston’s top luxury destination. We see this as a positive as it will attract both new and existing clients and further increase growth within the industry.

We know Dior used to be in the Galleria but closed its store in 2012. With the new design direction of Raf Simons, how will business performance change with the new space at River Oaks district?

River Oaks is a unique combination of urban style (with its street-like grid) and elegance. As a luxury destination, it pays acute attention to detail in both its design and structural layout. [This is] very similar to Dior. As a house we embody elegance, luxury and innovation, but there is also an urban side — a new modernity inspired by the designs of Raf Simons.

What will be in store for your grand reopening? Do you have personal favorites from the fall collection?

I love the graphic take on the animal print throughout the fall collection. This print is my favorite, and I love the 1970s inspiration. I am also a big fan of the new Lady Dior styles that were released this season. There is a strong selection of new colors and materials —a must-have accessory for the fall.

This house has so much history. What is the one thing our Houston audience should know about Christian Dior?

The house of Dior is very rooted in its history, which is why the Houston Dior boutique takes its inspiration from the original concept of the Paris Avenue Montaigne Flagship boutique designed by Peter Marino. Dior has also commissioned several contemporary artists to design works for the boutique in staying true to the house’s connection with art. But what many people do not know is that Dior and the state of Texas also have history. Texas is one of the first states visited by Mr. Christian Dior back in the late 1940s. It was a rather important trip for Mr. Dior, being in the United States and meeting the American woman. Upon his return to Paris, he told his friends and colleagues that he found the women of Texas to be extremely sophisticated and charming.

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