Theron and Penn dazzle at Dior’s colossal fashion celebration

When Charlize Theron and Sean Penn walked into Dior’s Paris Haute Couture show, it was not only the couture gowns that dazzled guests.

Sean Penn and Charlize Theron pose prior to Dior's Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015 fashion show. Philippe Wojazer / Reuters
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They’re a couple who have been together only since February and are rarely seen in public.

So when the Oscar-winning power couple Charlize Theron and Sean Penn walked into Dior’s Paris Haute Couture show on Monday and sat prominently in the front row, it was not only the couture gowns that dazzled guests.

Theron and Penn triggered a frenzy as they arrived together at the Rodin Museum show hand in hand. The 38-year-old Theron – a brand ambassador for Dior – wore a gold, shimmering fringed cocktail dress similar to the one she appears in for Dior’s now-iconic J’Adore perfume advert.

She and 53-year-old Penn, who wore a black Dior suit, chatted with LVMH boss Bernard Arnault.

That held up the show, but that didn’t seem to help another Oscar-winning guest who was running late. Jennifer Lawrence ended up having to catch a repeat of the show later in the day because her flight was delayed.

“Encyclopaedic” sums up Raf Simons’s latest adventure for Dior – his most masterful yet.

Set in a circular ballroom catwalk, the Belgian designer ambitiously channelled about four centuries of style – with a fashion-forward twist he called “forward and back”.

Simons’s journey started with 18th-century dresses fit for an avant-garde Marie ­Antoinette. Voluminous exaggerated French ballgowns in pale ­jacquard silk were made ­contemporary with trapeze structuring. The couture novel continued in eight distinct chapters, with guests gasping in delight each time they were transported on to a different era.

There were the longline coats of Edwardian England – one in dark grey cashmere that gently curved down the body stood out in its ­deceptive simplicity.

Then came the famed Bar Jacket of the 1949 “New Look” – represented in this 62-piece show by exaggerated collars in black, and one great flappy coat in ­cobalt blue wool. But the real stars of the show were the heels.

In deep red, vermilion, pink, black, yellow, orange and cerulean blue, the incredible pointed stilettos, with missing sections in the middle, gave these forward-and-back encyclopaedic ­princesses the illusion of the longest legs known in any age.

• Look out for our round-up of the best of Paris Haute Couture Week in Sunday’s edition of Arts&Life