Dior's transient garden sets the mood for Paris Fashion Week

By Sarah White and Laetitia Volga

PARIS (Reuters) - Christian Dior presented a wardrobe fit for glamorous eco-warriors in Paris on Tuesday, as models showed off looks dotted in wild flowers on a catwalk lined with trees set to be replanted around the city.

Dior, part of luxury group LVMH, is one of the first major French brands to kick off Paris Fashion Week, with the likes of Kering's Saint Laurent and independent Chanel also set to showcase looks for next spring and summer.

Hot on the heels of runway shows in New York, London and Milan, where some labels as well as organizers sought to address consumer concerns over the industry's green credentials, Paris is also looking to improve its environmental record.

Designer Maria Grazia Chiuri's latest outing for Dior echoed that message, in the collection and on the set of an "inclusive garden".

In a makeshift structure within the grounds of a horse-racing course, models in pale gowns sashayed over soil between more than a hundred trees still standing in pods of earth, and destined for various urban development projects around Paris.

"The garden is not only an idea of decorative things but also something that could help (us) to have a future. We tried to translate this important element in the show," Chiuri told Reuters in an interview. French landscape design collective Coloco worked with Dior on the installation.

"I'm a designer. I'm not a bit expert in this argument. The first thing is to collaborate with someone that knows," Chiuri added.

Inspired in part by Catherine Dior - the sister of late founder Christian Dior and an expert gardener, as well as the inspiration for the brand's hit Miss Dior perfume - styles were also rooted in the botanical world.

But rather than the delicate roses Dior was known for in the 1940s in 1950s, dresses and suits were adorned with creeping vines, thistles and thorns.

Some looks, like shaggy rain coats, had a camouflage edge, while models also wore frocks evoking cropped overalls and straw gardening hats.

Masculine silhouettes with oversized jackets followed a strapless, rustling raffia dress.

Chiuri also incorporated splashes of color with tie-dye skirts, a rainbow dress and deep blue shirts.

Earlier in September, British label Burberry said its London fashion show was certified as carbon neutral, as did Kering's Gucci label in Milan.

Climate activists staged a protest in London during the runway presentations, with some gluing themselves to the entrance of one fashion venue.

The French federation that organises Paris Fashion Week said that by 2020 it aimed for the event to be free of single-use plastics, such as water bottles, as part of other measures like encouraging people to use shuttle services to reduce emissions.

"The good point of fashion is its mediatic impact", Nicolas Bonnenfant, co-founder of the Coloco group that helped with the tree installation.

The Dior show was attended by actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Julianne Moore.

(Reporting by Sarah White and Laetitia Volga; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)