Christian Dior Couture showcased its Fall 2023 collection in Mumbai on March 30, becoming the first fashion house to unveil the latest lines in India as luxury brands tap new markets in a hunt for their next billions. 

Everything from sari-inspired skirts to boleros to vibrantly colored outfits in silks, including those in an Indian pink, were on display, with the Gateway of India as the backdrop in the show led by Dior’s first female creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri. Parent group LVMH’s shares rose as much as 1 per cent to 838.7 euros ($913), touching a record high during market hours on Friday.  

Dior, the second-biggest brand of billionaire Bernard Arnault’s French luxury behemoth LVMH, and the decision to add India to its seasonal schedule shows a rising interest to tap the nation’s rising wealth. India currently has 119 billionaires, according to Oxfam, with the country estimated to produce 70 new millionaires every day between 2018 and 2022. 

It also points to Dior’s ability to bring entry-level buyers into the LVMH realm — a rising group of spenders, especially in the country of 1.4 billion people, through its cosmetics to perfumes to bags offerings. 

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“It’s a hugely untapped market with middle class on the rise and lots more and lots more, by the year, millionaires,” says Deborah Aitken, senior analyst for luxury goods at Bloomberg Intelligence. “It’s vibrant, it’s new design, new color, new technologies into the luxury space, which is hugely needed.”

Entry-point luxury

One way Dior is presumably aligning itself with customers in India is to work with regional artisans from the Chanakya ateliers in Mumbai. The hand embroidery export house counts brands like Versace, Valentino, Balmain, and Moncler as clients to design clothes for pop stars like Madonna. It's an indication of a more pronounced imprint of Indian craftsmanship in global luxury.

Dior’s not new at showcasing its collections at untapped locations with iconic architecture serving as a backdrop to its runways. Artistic director Kim Jones unveiled its men’s fall collection last year with the Pyramids of Giza rising in the background, bringing to front its parent group’s ambition to ensure future profits as the next generation of the Arnault family takes on more pivotal roles in the empire.    

“When you think about Dior, there’s an immediate link for Dior in fragrances, in make-up where they’re so strong and that is where entry-point luxury starts for so many consumers,” said Aitken.