Natalie Portman Revived One of the Most-Famous Dior Gowns of All Time on the Cannes Carpet

The 76th Cannes Film Festival has already delivered a slew of breathtaking red-carpet looks, including Elle Fanning’s Alexander McQueen “dress of dreams” for the opening ceremony and Naomi Campbell’s crimson Valentino gown with a pink feathered cape at the Killers of the Flower Moon screening. However, Natalie Portman’s arrival at the May December premiere in a glittering custom Dior number that’s an ode to a museum piece really captivated die-hard fashion enthusiasts.

Samir Hussein
Samir Hussein

The actor’s ivory strapless gown—meticulously adorned with ornate beading and featuring a layered skirt reminiscent of a fan of eyeless peacock feathers—is inspired by the Junon dress that Christian Dior himself created for his 1949–1950 autumn-winter collection (named after the Roman goddess, who was wife to Jupiter and patron goddess of Rome). Although it’s not currently on display, the original dress is a part of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute collection.

The original Junon gown, on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

While Portman’s look—which was dreamt up by Dior’s current creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri—pays homage to the legendary piece, the construction and fabrication of the garment are not identical to the original. This has divided the internet’s style watchers, with some praising the reference (“This is insane,” asserts fashion Twitter account @SaintDoII), and others, like Cherie Balch of Shrimpton Couture, suggesting that certain historic gowns just shouldn’t be recreated. (Naturally, the vintage expert advocates for true archive over recreations on the red carpet.)

“Natalie looked stunning, and her place as a long time ambassador of the house certainly justifies remaking this gown,” Balch noted on Instagram. “But, for me, the reproduction pales in comparison—the line is not quite right, the embellishment is less, and the movement didn’t have the ease and beauty of the original.”

A model on the runway at the Christian Dior Haute Couture show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2010. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty Images)Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Getty Images
Jeff Kravitz

The dress has been referenced on numerous occasions in the past at Dior, as well as by other design houses. Some of the most notable moments include dresses from John Galliano’s spring 2010 haute couture and Grazia Chiuri’s spring 2017 haute couture collections at Dior, as well as Zuhair Murad’s bespoke scalloped number for British Vogue’s June cover star, Miley Cyrus, which she wore to the 2009 Oscars.

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