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Dior’s Cinematic Celebration of Men’s Fashion

February 14, 1995

PARIS (AP) _ It can be hard to show men’s fashions. What could be duller than a bunch of gray suits walking up and down?

Patrick Lavoix, Dior’s menswear designer, came up with an entertaining answer Monday night: the movies.

Timed with celebrations commemorating the centenary of the Lumiere brothers’ patent for the first cinema, the show of Dior Monsieur for summer was a movie-play in the Marigny theater next to the Champs-Elysees.

He had already shown similarly cinematic tableaux in the Avenue Montaigne shop last summer. This time he added a few new outfits and had actors appear alongside professional male models, all against a big-screen background.

``The movie idea really intrigued me,″ said Lavoix, who organized the production with a writer, Didier van Cauwelaert, winner of the prestigious Goncourt literary prize.

Handsomely illustrated with old photographs of Christian Dior’s birthplace in Normandy and shots of celebrities like Humphrey Bogart, the show evoked the past of a couture giant who died at age 52 in 1957 but left a legacy of style.

The Dior Monsieur line, created in 1970, has been designed by Lavoix since 1992. The clothes shown were both old-fashioned and modern.

``I would have been 90 years old,″ intoned the blow-up photo of Dior as Normandy-style costumes featuring easy linen shirts and striped long shorts marched by.

The show also evoked Dior’s love of colorful paintings by his friend Raoul Dufy and his love of good food. He once wrote a cookbook.

Whether Dior would have liked the clothes is an open question. He was an impeccably dressed gentleman who refused to receive any tieless man in his office, though casual wear for the country was fine.

Lavoix excelled in offering fun casual attire _ superb cottons and linens in solids like raspberry, lemon and pine green in easy trousers, unconstructed jacket and shirts _ just great for high life on the French Riviera.

Other good ideas included shimmery red or gold vests in silk with animal motifs, plus spotted sweater-vests in a go-fishing sequence. Evening wear stuck to the uniform black and white, though tuxedo styles were anything but uptight.

Somehow, while Lavoix looked elegant taking a bow in his dark, sharp suit, the light gray and tan summer-suit outfits on the models did not quite make the cut for city elegance.

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