“J’adore Dior”, a woman would whisper sensually as she struts full of confidence; her dress never quite the center of attention, but rather her own being. I gazed wistfully at the television where the advertisement played, seemingly out of reach, and repeated the words. This was the first moment I was aware of Dior; and even to this day, it is this particular memory that surfaces from the recesses of my mind. On the 13th of March 2017, however, I was fortunate to stand in the exclusive Dior pop-up experience and boutique in ION Orchard and say “J’ADIOR”.
At ESSEC Business School in France, there is a long-standing relationship with the LVMH group, including Dior. Now, the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus takes the baton as we further the relationship, right here in Singapore. The group of LVMH companies had recently interacted with numerous students during the ESSEC Career Fair Asia-Pacific on the 9th of March, the first of what will hopefully be many more interactions in the years to come. The Career Services team, for the first time in Singapore, also arranged for an exclusive invitation for a group of students to view the new Maria Grazia Chiuri Spring-Summer 2017 Collection, and to experience the Dior boutique for ourselves.
Maria Grazia Chiuri herself, handpicked Singapore as one of the few countries to be graced with a pop-up experience, where her new Spring-Summer 2017 Collection is displayed. The pop-up is in ION Orchard, one of Singapore’s premiere shopping destinations; also home to the Dior boutique and Dior Homme. The twenty-three of us from ESSEC were treated to a guided explanation by the professional staff there who impressed us all with their explanations and insightful answers to our many questions, even managing to gain the understanding of those perhaps not fully acquainted with the world of luxury nor fashion. It was truly wonderful to understand the inspiration behind the new collection reverently displayed in the pop-up, some of which I will share with you below.
Firstly, we were treated to the sight of the newest concept of ‘J’ADIOR’ displayed as logos on various items such as handbags, sunglasses, heels and wallets. The term ‘J’ADIOR’ was coined by the Creative Director as an amalgamation of the much renowned catchphrase ‘J’adore Dior’; the idea of which was to combine the classic marketing pun on the brand name to make it even more eye-catching, while still maintaining the meaning behind the words, translated as- ‘I love Dior’. From a business standpoint, the ingenuity behind this decision is to be lauded as it allows the translation of a catchphrase into a branding opportunity. The heritage of the Dior brand is visible also in the manufacturing decisions behind the monogrammed items which seem vintage and rightly so, since the design is a revisit of the original monogram, right down to the creation of the bag under the careful hands of the exact original manufacturer in Belgium. Yet another item that made an impression on me was the updated Lady Dior bags, some of which had flaps rather than zips so as to make the contents of the bag more accessible on the go. The relevance of this creative decision is definitely attributable to Dior’s first female Creative Director who intimately understands the needs of her fellow females. With International Women’s Day having just passed, my wish is that more and more women will be given premier roles in businesses at least for the sake of truly being able to understand one’s consumer base.
Next, we were faced with eight Ready-to-Wear pieces from the Spring-Summer 2017 Collection. From fitted coats to full suits, tulle skirts to fencing outfits; the Ready-to-Wear pieces showed both diversity and grit. It was enlightening to see both very feminine and very sporty options presented. There was also some discussion on the materials used and the process of dressmaking. We learned that apparently, the Creative Director’s mother used to be a seamstress and as such, she is sympathetic both to the need to keep dressmaking alive and the usage of exclusively sourced materials. What stuck with me the most however, was the fact that each and every piece on the mannequin was styled along with accessories or bags. It was definitely not displayed as just a piece of clothing to wear, but rather as an ensemble of different items that came together to portray a sense of character. We were helpfully told that this decision was due to Maria Grazia Chiuri’s immense want to create a whole suggested look rather than display individual pieces as this would give women the option to “express rather than dress”. The thoughtfulness in every detail of the styling is testament to the Dior woman, just like I used to see in the advertisements- a little mysterious, sensual, and full of character.
Finally, the group of us made our way into the permanent Dior boutique. If you have ever passed by the boutique while in Ion, you are sure to have noticed the seemingly sparkling walls; it is actually a Nagoya façade in Dior’s classic ‘Cannage’ design. Walking into the boutique, we were greeted by the sight of an exquisitely designed concept, which emulates the boutique in Avenue Montaigne, Paris. The shimmering tones of grey and white were a backdrop to the art that could be seen everywhere, from the actual pieces of Dior’s collections, to even looking up to the ceiling upon which were tiny twinkling lights that brought to mind the constellations that Monsieur Dior so favored.
As we passed each doorway in the sprawling boutique, it was as if we had entered a different universe- all the different rooms in the boutique had separate design concepts. From the balcony overlooking the Palace of Versailles where the timepieces were displayed, to the garden set in front of hanging chains in the footwear section, what truly transcended all the rooms was the immense sense of belonging and comfort that one would feel in their own home. All the furniture in the boutique were works of art, having been conceptualized and created by individual artists for Dior alone. Another recurring theme was the use of couture fabrics. In each room sat different medallion chairs, each with a unique couture fabric backing. What appealed to me especially was entering the immense fitting rooms, complete with adjustable mirrors and comfortable armchairs, to find that even the walls of the fitting room had been lined with couture fabric.
Just when we thought we had seen it all, a pair of curtains was literally drawn back for us to make our way to the exclusive VIP Salon. Entering a more private room complete with silver cushioned furniture, a faux fireplace and mirrors upon mirrors, it was a true experience of exclusivity. We then made our way to Dior Homme where although the concept was tailored to men, the overarching designs were true to the brand identity. All in all, the Dior boutique gave me a sense of both various collections of concepts and a unifying identity that spoke volumes of its founder and heritage.
Looking back, this experience was genuinely inspiring and opened my eyes to the world of luxury. On behalf of all the students, I would like to thank Dior and ESSEC’s Career Services team for sharing this experience with us. It was truly an honor for the group of us to have been given an insight into the workings of one of the world’s top brands. I leave you now with these iconic words - ‘J’ADIOR’.