Natalie Portman made her triumphant return to the Cannes Film Festival this weekend and turned the clock back more than a half-century.
The Oscar winner turned up at the world premiere of her movie “May December” wearing a strapless gown that featured a white bodice and an ornate, scalloped skirt studded with midnight blue beads.
True to form, Portman looked effortlessly chic, with many fashion outlets proclaiming her dress to be one of the French film festival’s best. But it was actually a modern reimagining of a Christian Dior gown created 74 years ago.
Dior’s current creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, took inspiration from “Junon,” which first appeared as part of the fashion house’s fall/winter collection in 1949. The original dress was named for Juno, the Roman goddess whose Greek counterpart is Hera.
It belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, though it’s not currently on display to visitors. The Met regards “Junon” and another dress created that same year, “Venus,” as the “most coveted” of Dior’s designs.
“The magnificent skirt of ombréed petals, like abstractions of peacock feathers without their ‘eyes,’ obliquely references the bird associated with the Queen of the Olympians,” the institute’s website says.
Interestingly, it wasn’t the first time that the iconic design has been referenced in modern fashion.
Last winter, designer Kim Jones created a sleeveless men’s top for Dior that featured similar layers and beading. Miley Cyrus’ 2009 Academy Awards look, designed by Zuhair Murad, also bore a striking resemblance.
While Portman’s jaw-dropping style is garnering buzz, her latest performance may prove to be even more indelible.
“May December,” directed by Todd Haynes, stars Portman as Elizabeth Berry, a Hollywood actor set to star in a true crime drama about a 36-year-old woman who becomes a tabloid sensation after she’s caught having an affair with a 13-year-old.
To prepare for the role, Elizabeth visits the woman at the center of the decades-old case, Gracie Atherton-Yoo (Julianne Moore), who is hoping the film will shine a sympathetic light on her story after years of criticism.
The film, which appears to take inspiration from the real-life case of Mary Kay Letourneau, received an eight-minute standing ovation at its premiere and drew raves from critics.
“You cannot, cannot do better than having Portman and Moore front and center with juicy roles like these,” Deadline wrote. “Watching their cat-and-mouse game again confirms these two Oscar winners are as good as it gets.”