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Dior’s new ‘Secret Garden – Versailles’ film fulfills mag potential


I wrote quite a tough review of Dior’s new online magazine when it launched in February, disappointed by the lack of real editorial interest in any of the pieces being published.

While there remain a couple of misses here and there, in general the aim to “both entertain and inform” now seems to be being met. Evidence lies in a couple of great recent pieces, including this Q&A with Hongbo Li, a stylist in the flou atelier at Dior Haute Couture; and this insight on the Dior Homme pop-up shop in New York.

Even better, the brand used the platform to reveal its new autumn/winter 2012/13 campaign film, “Secret Garden – Versailles”, last week. Pushing it out through a number of teasers, it finally revealed both a 60-second short and a full three-minute version, as above, a day apart.

Created by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, the film features model Daria Strokous alongside Melissa Stasiuk and Xiao Wen Ju in a deserted Versailles.

“A wondrous path that winds through the Galerie des Glaces, through the palace’s endless interconnecting salons, as far as the grand tree-lined walks that sweep through the classic parkland à la française… a dreamlike fashion show where Versailles is transformed into Christian Dior’s secret garden, his emblematic château,” reads the copy.

Good job.


Sorry Dior, your new online magazine misses the mark

Dior has unveiled a new online magazine in a continuation of its quest for greater digital presence, but unfortunately the result just isn’t fit for purpose.

According to WWD, launches with eight articles to coincide with the fact the number is a good luck charm to the company. It will follow with  daily updates based on a variety of content designed to “both entertain and inform”. News from its 30 Avenue Montaigne headquarters will be included, as well as details on its other activities worldwide.

The aim is to tell the backstory of the brand and its products. As WWD’s piece explains, there is therefore also “house lore galore: The site’s introductory letter notes that Christian Dior was so superstitious, he would sew sprigs of lily of the valley into dress linings for luck on the day of his show.”

In theory, it sounds great. But in practice, it unfortunately comes across way too much as corporate spiel than it does anything that closely resembles that of “news” or a “magazine”.

Take this title: “Silver screen stars and fashion icons: femininity as seen by Christian Dior“. From that, I expect a real insight into the women of Dior, why they’ve been chosen, who they are, history of where they’ve come from. Maybe, even hopefully, then some insight into a fresh campaign, at the very least the latest update on one of its ambassadors like Charlize Theron (though the images of her that are provided are beautiful, if not fresh).

Alas, the text intros as follows: “Backstage Dior: the other side of the show coin. Behind the scenes, the action continues. But it’s another film that’s showing here, a more intimate one. Flanking the runway: director Jean-Jacques Annaud’s cast of four hundred. In the wings: Marilyn, Grace, Marlene, Charlize – Dior-ified, brought together through the magic of cinema.” A further three very similar paragraphs follow.

Unfortunately, the only phrase that comes to mind from that is: PR jargon. Or worse yet, utter mumbo jumbo. The team might have hired a “full-time editor in chief, whose identity has not been disclosed”, but the writing doesn’t come close to offering anything slightly resembling that of true magazine editorial quality. Beautiful if it’s on a page about the history of the brand, a piece of text designed to inspire or merely illustrate, but for a blog? (as that’s essentially what this is trying to be). Don’t expect digitally-savvy consumers to embrace it is all I’ll say.

This post on the house’s latest couture show, is much the same. It claims to offer a “look at it”, but the gallery doesn’t actually overly show the collection itself, and the copy, once again, reads exactly like a press release. Or maybe the show notes.

The post on Miss Dior, or Christian’s little sister Catherine, is better, but not by much.

The key thing that’s missing from Dior’s puzzle here, is creating content that’s shareable. Nothing in any of these pieces screams out “share me on Twitter” or “post me on Facebook” (where it has almost 7m fans), although that functionality is, quite surprisingly, built in.

There are some incredible branded content offerings out there from luxury fashion houses: Dolce & Gabbana’s Swide, Mr Porter, not to mention LVMH’s own Nowness, so plenty for Dior to have learnt from. Even Chanel’s very elusive attempts do a better job.

According to WWD, will cover Friday’s Paris Fashion Week show as its inaugural headline event, live-streaming it for the first time too. There’s also plans for blogger Susie Bubble to oversee a feed on Twitter at the same time. In both of those, therefore there may come something of much more value.

The entire concept has real potential, but from a content standpoint, I just hope they start to drive it properly. When you’re a brand as rich as Dior, you are naturally sitting on an enormous bed of information that people want to know, hear and see more of. By all means tell us about the past, but also show us behind-the-scenes, take us into 30 Avenue Montaigne, and give us a sneak peek at what’s coming next.

Either which way, just write it in a straightforward manner… for if you do, we’ll probably start talking about it. And better than that, we’ll also come back again.


ps. This piece from The New York Times fashion desk is worth reading: Editing as a brand investment