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Dior: 60 Years of Parisian Chic

LONDON — The big red bus trundles along, its wheels churning past the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London. The giveaway that this is not just classic London transport is the bright shiny surface of the double decker and the words “Dior” on the side. Oh! And a giant, sexy, high-heeled sandal on the top.


The windows at Harrods department store in Knightsbridge are attracting crowds usually reserved for the holiday shopping season. Visitors admire the “London Eye,” a small version of the Ferris wheel loaded with dainty Dior perfume bottles against a silhouette of Big Ben and the racing clouds of a gray sky.


Children (and adults) drool over the cuddly teddy bears, military in their grenadier uniforms, with black bearskin hats between their soft ears. They share the space with a scarlet quilted bag or a Scottish plaid version. At £200 a pop, or about $300, the fashionable bears — like the £20 boxes of four cupcakes in the Dior café — are flying out of the store.


“We wanted to capture the essence of Christian Dior in London over 60 years,” said Marigay McKee, chief merchant at Harrods. The French designer’s special relationship with London began in 1953 when he came to England to attend the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. He returned the following year and held a fashion show in Harrods, which has since then always carried the brand.

“我们想捕捉到克里斯汀·迪奥(Christian Dior)在伦敦60多年历史的精髓,”哈罗德的首席采购销售运营官麦瑞戈·麦基(Marigay McKee) 说。那位法国设计师与伦敦的特殊关系始于1953年,那年他来英国参加伊丽莎白女王的加冕典礼。第二年他又来了,在哈罗德举办了一场时装发布会,此后该商场一直销售这个品牌的服装。

Although in-store promotions might be familiar across the world, in this case, Dior is making the most of the five week London event at Harrods, which ends mid-April, with the witty windows taking over the entire front-of-store and a pop-up boutique on the main floor, with its glam mannequin in a black sweater and a full-blown, rose-patterned skirt.


On the fourth floor is a heritage display, designed to give shoppers a light-hearted history lesson. It opens with shadow figures, dressed in Dior’s iconic 1947 New Look, on the facade of a re-creation of the brand’s Paris mansion on Avenue Montaigne. Then comes a poetic lineup of white toile couture canvases; miniature “dolls” in tiny replica outfits from Christian Dior’s past to the present; and dresses created for immortal stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Princess Diana, along with current red carpet stars, from Marion Cotillard to Jennifer Lawrence and Charlize Theron.

四层设有历史展览,以便顾客轻松回顾该品牌的历史。首先看到的是一些剪影人像,她们身穿迪奥标志性的1947年“New Look”系列服装,背景是该品牌位于巴黎蒙田大道的大楼的正面模型。然后是一排富有诗意的白色帆布油画,上面画着迪奥的各式定制服装;一群微型“玩偶”,它们身穿克里斯汀·迪奥自始至今出品的各式套装;为明星们设计的晚装,包括那些流芳百世的明星,比如伊丽莎白·泰勒(Elizabeth Taylor)、奥黛丽·赫本(Audrey Hepburn)和戴安娜王妃(Princess Diana),以及当今红毯上的明星,比如玛丽昂·歌迪亚(Marion Cotillard)、詹妮弗·劳伦斯(Jennifer Lawrence)和查理兹·塞隆(Charlize Theron)。

Visitors can play with cyberspace wonders like a history “book” with pages that turn with a swipe of the hand. There is also an image of Christian Dior projected on a giant salon chair or the same technology used to show a pair of hands constructing a Dior bag. Videos show how the brand has changed over time — from its staid 1950s through the wild John Galliano years to its designer today, Raf Simons.

游客们还可以体验网络空间的神奇,它就像一本历史“书”,手一挥就能翻一页。克里斯汀·迪奥的图像投影在一张巨大的美发椅上,同样的技术还被用于展示一双手在制作迪奥手包。视频资料展示出该品牌这些年来的变化——从20世纪50年代的保守,到约翰·加利亚诺(John Galliano)时代的狂野,再到今天的设计师拉夫·西蒙斯(Raf Simons)。

Ms. McKee said that “Christian Dior loved the way women wore their pearls and hats — we wanted a sophisticated take on that inspiration, trying to create in the exhibition the heritage of Dior as a couture house and the charm, the almost cheeky irreverence of a Parisian in London, with her nipped-in waist and bustle. It is the spirit of Dior as an ingénue, very pretty, very French, flirty and equally quite proper,” Ms. McKee said.


The collaboration between Dior and Harrods is an affirmation of the importance of department stores to major brands, even though the French label has a store of its own a few blocks away on Sloane Street and a flagship on New Bond Street.

迪奥和哈罗德的合作证明了百货公司对大品牌的重要性,尽管这个法国品牌在几个街区之外的斯隆街(Sloane Street)上就有一家自己的店铺,在新邦德(New Bond Street)大街上还有一家旗舰店。

Across the universe of style, department stores are repositioning themselves in a world of fast fashion and e-commerce. For the 21st century, as at its birth a century ago, a store needs to be an emporium of excitement and emotion — a place where the offering is unique, the service is five star and shopping is an immersive dream world.


Over the past two decades, as each luxury brand developed its global flagship, creating a similar key store in major cities across the world, the relationship with department stores languished. The “corners” devoted to the big names became a cat-fight for position and space. And however grand and prestigious the historic store, it could not compete with the lavish own label emporium.


Now the tectonic retail plates are shifting again. In the Western world, the department store has a new audience to engage, seduce and impress: foreign visitors — especially those from China and the rest of the Far East, but also from Africa, South America and Russia.


Sidney Toledano, president and chief executive officer of Christian Dior Couture, who started working with Harrods nearly two decades ago, made a frank overview of the London scene, when he was in the city for the Harrods event.

西德尼·托莱达诺(Sidney Toledano)是迪奥高级时装公司的总裁兼首席执行官,大约20年前他开始与哈罗德合作。他来伦敦参加哈罗德的活动时,对该市的情况做出了坦诚的概括。

“We need real partnerships to defend ourselves in the face of all the chains and the fast retailers like Top Shop, H&M and Zara, which are supermarkets of clothes,” said Mr. Toledano, who cites other global relationships Dior has built: with Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette in Paris; with Isetan in Japan; with Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue in the United States.

“我们需要建立真正的伙伴关系去应对各种连锁店和快时尚品牌,比如Top Shop、H&M和 Zara,它们是服装超市,”托莱达诺说。他还列举了迪奥在其他地方建立起的关系:在巴黎与巴黎春天百货(Printemps)和老佛爷百货(Galeries Lafayette)合作;在日本与伊势丹百货(Isetan)合作;在美国与波道夫·古德曼百货(Bergdorf Goodman)和萨克斯第五大道百货(Saks Fifth Avenue)合作。

With Mr. Simon’s streamlined, modern designs, the new strategy is to stir up Dior retail by creating pop-up stores in hip and cool places. Hence there have been displays at concept shops such as 10 Corso Como in Milan and Colette in Paris. Like the Harrods pop-up, these mini offerings are transient.

迪奥的新战略着眼于西蒙斯流线型的现代设计,通过在非常时尚的地点设立“临时贩售点”来刺激零售。因此,它在一些概念店办起了展示,比如在米兰的10 Corso Como和巴黎的柯莱特(Colette)。和在哈罗德设立的临时贩售点一样,这样的小型展示是临时性的。

Ms. McKee said that Dior had been raising its profile at Harrods even before the current event. She did not give specific figures, but she noted there had been a significant rise in sales of the Dior brand.


“The Raf Simons effect is bringing a more modern, younger customer to the Dior boutique,” said Ms Mckee, citing the allure of a curvy “Bar” jacket, invented by Christian Dior in 1947 that has been modernized and paired with pants or shorts.


Is collaborating on a single name in a department store enough to counteract the decade-long focus on brand flagship stores?


Ms. McKee said that however much a customer might cherish a single “temple of luxury,” the department store represents a “mecca” with a conglomeration of brands under one roof. The numbers tell the story.


Harrods is anticipating two million customers going through its store during the weeks of the Dior event — a number of shoppers inconceivable in a flagship.


Hovering over these initiatives is that monster in the sky: the Internet. With e-commerce now making purchases of even luxury goods so widely available, the stores have to fight back. That requires not bean counters but brand leaders with the vision that created and shaped the stores in the first place.


Significantly, “Mr. Selfridge,” a television series about the charismatic American founder of Selfridges, the department store that opened in 1909 on Oxford Street, has been a hit in Britain. (It will premiere on PBS in the United States at the end of March.)

电视剧《塞尔福里奇先生》(Mr. Selfridge)在英国受到追捧(3月底该剧将在美国的PBS频道开播)。它讲述的是创立塞尔福里奇百货公司的这位美国传奇人物的故事。这家百货公司于1909年在牛津街开业。

The show, starring Jeremy Piven as Harry Gordon Selfridge, aims apparently to turn the shopping emporium into a retail version of the aristocratic “Downton Abbey.”

杰里米·皮文(Jeremy Piven)在该剧中扮演哈里·戈登·塞尔福里奇(Harry Gordon Selfridge)。该剧明显是想把这个百货公司变成贵族戏《唐顿庄园》的零售业版。

If glamour and intrigue among the cash registers on screen can draw eight million British viewers per episode, perhaps they will be encouraged to pick up the remote, switch off the image of a virtual store and take a fresh look at the real thing.