PARIS, France - Forget the "it" bag. With its haute couture collection of refined riding clothes, Dior on Monday invited the chic women of the world to saddle up and ditch their handbags for a truly useful accessory: the riding crop.
Christian Dior designer John Galliano looked to the lady equestrians of the 19th century - bold Amazons in nip-waisted jackets and flowing skirts - for a spring-summer 2010 collection of skirt suits in fine red and grey wool, worn with veiled top hats, lace up boots with towering heels and, of course, whips.
Kylie Minogue, one of a gaggle of A-list guests, said she was sure such an accessory could come in handy.
"I'm sure I could make a few moves with a riding crop," the pop star - dressed in a black-and-white check Dior dress - told The Associated Press.
Besides the equestrian garb - built on a variation of Dior's iconic Bar jacket, with heavily draped peplums - the collection also included short cocktail dresses covered in outrageous embroidery and jewel-toned ball gowns that had the long, stately silhouette of a John Singer Sargent painting.
Knockouts in the ravishing collection included a shell pink halter gown with a cascading train in tobacco-coloured silk and an olive green halter jacket and draped pencil skirt, worn with fuchsia leather gloves and bracelets hung with dangling, egg-sized chunks of amber.
Galliano "had the vision of the ladies riding in the morning, taking afternoon tea in the short dresses and the gorgeous ball gowns for the evening," said Minogue, who was flanked by Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung and French actress Nora Arnezeder. Other front-row guests at the show, one of the highest profile of Paris' haute couture displays, included Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, designer Pierre Cardin, French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand and Paz Vega.
The Spanish actress said she knew how to ride, but didn't like to because "I once fell off and now I'm afraid of horses."
But if getting back in the saddle meant getting to wear clothes from the ultra-exclusive, made-to-measure collection - with pieces starting in the thousands of euros (dollars) - Vega said she'd hop right on.
"I love the esthetic of riding, so elegant, so chic, feminine but with a masculine touch," she told The AP. "Sign me up!"
Galliano, who always appears in costume to take a final bow, strutted the catwalk in white jodhpurs, a velvet jacket with tails, boots with a considerable heel and the summer's next big accessory - a swishing whip.