Dior transforms Mumbai’s Gateway of India into fashion ramp

Monitoring Desk

MUMBAI: In a glittering splash of luxury fashion Thursday, Dior transformed Mumbai’s grand, historic Gateway of India monument into a runway laden with celebrity, beauty and craftsmanship.

Flanked by the brightly lit, iconic Taj Mahal Palace hotel, the spectacular decor turned the heritage site in India’s entertainment and business capital into a blend of color and style as the models lined up to showcase the Paris fashion house’s 2023 pre-fall collection.

The runway, lined with traditional Indian floral designs, reverberated with fusion beats from live musicians as Indian artistry and craftsmanship took center stage in creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri’s collection.

The lineup featured silk dresses, evening coats and sari-inspired skirts that referenced traditional Indian silhouettes. The show opened with an array of neutrals, subtly transitioning to forest green before giving way to a blaze of bright colors and patterns. Throughout it all, most of the models sported strings of pearls wound around their necks.

“I personally wanted to celebrate and showcase the incredible knowledge India offers to the international world of fashion in the field of embroidery, the mastery of the artisans who continue to work on this craft, and the commitment of Chanakya’s founders to preserving India’s history and culture, portrayed by each embroidery technique,” Chiuri said in an Instagram post.

Dior has had a long association with India through the Mumbai-based atelier Chanakya, which works with artisans and underprivileged women. The show brought the spotlight back on India’s luxury fashion market where major Western fashion brands like Pierre Cardin, Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino have presented their collections in the past.

India, now the world’s fifth-largest economy, has always been known for its intricate embroidery art, opulent textiles and embellishments. With a young and aspirational middle class that has easy access to internet — and a rising number of uber-rich — it is fast emerging as a key consumer market for international fashion labels.

Many Indian designers have also opened stores in the global fashion capitals like New York and Dubai and have been showcasing their collections during international fashion weeks.

To flesh out the guest list, Dior drew on a range of A-list invitees from India and elsewhere. Bollywood actors in attendance included the legendary Rekha, fashion icon Sonam Kapoor Ahuja and Anushka Sharma, accompanied by her husband, Indian cricketer Virat Kohli.

Western celebrities of Indian origin or descent — like Freida Pinto, Simone Ashley of “Bridgerton”, sitarist Anoushka Shankar and Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Radhika Jones — took in the show. Other guests included actor Maisie Williams from “Game of Thrones” and Thai actors Mile and Apo from “KinnPorsche.”