PARIS (Reuters) - An enormous mirrored cube inside the courtyard of the Louvre museum greeted guests to the Dior fashion show on Friday, providing a glittery reflection of the surrounding Renaissance walls constructed by King Francis I.
The clash between the ultra modern and the old-world monarchy appeared to be precisely what Dior creative director Raf Simons was intending in his Spring/Summer 2015 ready-to-wear collection, which incorporated a time travel theme.
In the show notes, the Belgian designer explained that the mostly-white array of dresses and coats incorporated French royal court attire with "uniforms of pilots and astronauts, even school girls and skaters".
That's a lot of ideas in one mere show of 50 pieces, but Simons appeared unconcerned by the pesky restraints of cohesion.
"Eschewing strict historical accuracy and embracing an amalgamation in the imagination," the show was intended to provide a new take on modernity, he said.
Simons, appointed head designer in 2012 to replace John Galliano, said the challenge was to bring "the attitude of contemporary reality to something very historical."
That meant 18th century hooped silk skirts paired with skin-tight black T-shirt bodices, or the delicate floral prints usually seen on bathroom wallpaper used in jackets and pantsuits.
Guests, including Dakota Fanning and former supermodel and ex-First Lady of France Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, sat around a series of circular runways lit from below that would have felt right at home on the Star Wars' Death Star.
Blindingly bright light and a deafening synthesizer soundtrack kicked off the show, which began with a parade of leggy white pants and tops in cotton pique, either the cuffs or arms embellished with silk jacquard, explained as "a purposeful stratification of history".
"I have had a love story with Dior for a long time," said Bruni-Sarkozy before the show.
The singer-songwriter laughed when asked if she was ever tempted to return to the catwalk: "I'm over the age of runway modeling. Now I'm happy to just watch the pretty young girls."
Just as well, as some of the models half her age appeared to struggle in the wobbly, hand-knitted high heels and form-fitting boots accompanying looks that imparted a whiff of Edwardian fetish.
High collars and long sleeves on roomy white cotton shirt dresses had a disturbing similarity to granny nightgowns, while the proportions of a white quilted jacket - despite the floral detail - recalled a space suit.
Simons brought in the bling with a shocking satin linen raspberry court coat paired with black silk Bermuda shorts and a long satin linen coat in bright orange.
Three "ribbon dresses" in off-white, pink and black and navy satin, brought a classic Dior note to the show, their delicate ribbons adding a wispiness to the sheath dresses with airy pleats at the sides.
Dior is one of the many brands in the stable of LVMH, the world's No. 1 luxury group, whose lower-than-expected 3 percent sales rise in the second quarter underscored a darker outlook for the luxury goods industry overall.
More modest demand in China, and a decline in the number of Russian tourists to Paris because of the Ukraine crisis and the fall in the rouble, have hurt the industry.
Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Crispian Balmer