By Chris Gallagher
TOKYO (Reuters) - Christian Dior launched its new Tokyo store with a fashion show in the rooftop gardens of a luxury mall, where models sported new looks from its creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri.
Underlining Dior's connection with Japan, which is an "important market" for the fashion brand, Chiuri drew her inspiration from cherry blossoms and Christian Dior's 1953 "Jardin japonais" dress for her latest creations.
House of Dior Ginza's champagne-fuelled opening on Wednesday comes as spending by visitors to Japan is at record levels, although growth has slowed due partly to Chinese tourists buying less.
But Sidney Toledano, chief executive of Christian Dior Couture, told Reuters on Wednesday he was not concerned about cycles in tourism, which he has seen go through many phases during two decades running the French fashion house.
"What we want to do in Japan is look for the local market. We look for the Japanese customers," who have long been "super customers for luxury and high fashion," he said.
"Our business is not based on the tourist business ... my objective always in a country is to have a very strong local plan," said Toledano, who is also CEO of Christian Dior SE (DIOR.PA), the holding company for luxury group LVMH (LVMH.PA).
As well as revealing the eight new looks from Chiuri, Dior used the occasion to present the autumn 2017 collection from men's line Dior Homme for the first time.
Dior's new boutique occupies five floors in Ginza Six, the largest retail facility in the popular Tokyo shopping district with 241 stores, half of which are flagships. Other luxury brands' stores include Celine, Saint Laurent and Valentino.
Ginza Six sees tourists as a key target as the Japanese government aims to nearly double the number of overseas visitors to an annual 40 million by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympics.
Japan's market for personal luxury goods was worth 22 billion euros ($23 billion) in 2016, ranked second after the United States, with tourists accounting for 30 percent of revenue, according to Bain & Company.
($1 = 0.9392 euros)
(Editing by Alexander Smith)