The moment has come and gone ‒ and swept me off my feet. Yeah, Raf Simons finally debuted as a couturier for Dior y’day ‒ and how triumphantly he did. Folks, it was a moment of fashion history, and I’m not exaggerating.
In which other fashion show would you find the front row populated by designers Pierre Cardin, Jean-Louis Scherrer (both Monsieur Christian Dior’s protégés), Azzedine Alaïa, Marc Jacobs, Alber Elbaz, Donatella Versace, Christopher Kane, Riccardo Tisci, Kris van Assche, Diane von Fürstenberg, Olivier Theyskens, L’Wren Scott and every fashion editor worth its salt? Not least, a host of movie stars ‒ and Princess Charlene of Monaco. Friends, come hither hear of this magical evening.
Held at a grand hôtel particulier on the Avenue d’Iéna (instead of the usual Musée Rodin), guests walked in to find the floors and ceilings of the Parisian mansion’s five salons wallpapered with a million fresh flowers ‒ I repeat, 1,000000 fresh flowers!! ‒ of the delphinium, rose, orchid, peony and mimosa varieties! Only one type of flower in a single colour was used in each room, so that guests stepped through an archway of white orchids into a sea of blue delphiniums and then on to a smothering of yellow mimosas and so on. The reason being…? Flowers were one of Monsieur Christian Dior’s obsessions, while Raf loves their intense colour. Sounds like a complementary marriage already, no?
I took a quick break off a packed day at work to catch the live stream at diormag.fr, and it just wouldn’t bloody start. The guests, apparently, waited in pin drop silence, perhaps being knocked out by the intoxicating scent the million blooms are bound to diffuse. The show eventually started, 40 minutes late ‒ of course I caught the stream, bhar mein jaye naukri! ‒ to bring alive Monsieur Dior’s works for the 21st century mindset.
The ‘Bar’ jacket which formed the backbone of the classic 1947 New Look collection, was the basenote of this collection, too.
I loved that Raf stripped off all excesses from Monsieur Dior’s ‘Bar’ jacket and took just its flattering architecture to render it as pantsuits, swishing coats, coat-dresses, bustiers that blossomed from the waist down into full hips.
Nary an unnecessary embellishment was on sight, and whenever there were, so exquisite that you ‒ at least I for one :-) ‒ couldn’t take my eyes off them.
If the full skirt was Monsieur Dior’s ever trusted weapon, then Raf’s is the lean cigarette pant, which he sent out with his reinterpretation of the ‘Bar’ jacket, bustiers, strapless tops ‒ and ball gowns!!!
Yeah, ballgowns split at the middle to reveal black dress pants, for a quirky take on white-tie dressing. I am in love with the Schiaparelli version of it, like I need it in my life or I wouldn’t be able to survive!
Then another sapphire blue strapless top that magisterially trailed into a long silken train, looked so modern and simple and yet very high fashion. This is the genius of Raf.
Tweeds, another much-loved item of Monsieur Dior, were given a thoroughly modern take, for grey coats and a strapless dress, by way of geometric pattern.
But it’s with the 1950s dance frocks that Raf took his most confident strides. Gone were the cumbersome, larger-than-life ballgowns, the ones with which you struggle to get past the door, the ones which have become synonymous with the house of Dior, and along came the manageable, utterly practical balloon-skirted gowns, with nifty embellishments that Christian Dior Couture is famed for.
Raf’s contemporary leanings, and his love for arts, again showed through in another series of looks where traditional Bucol silks were treated with painterly drips à la Sterling Ruby, to ultimately take form as evening swing coat and ball dresses.
Okay, I could do without fur, though. But moving on to…
…the final sequence of looks where Raf opts for a dramatic send-off. But of course, being Raf, the drama was done ever so subtly. The dresses came in with one embroidery motif and colour at the front and another at the back. The embroideries at the back were remakes of historical Dior designs, while at the front were futuristic reinterpretations of those intricate designs. Very cerebral, no?
In almost all 54 of the looks, he drew a visual connection between his era to that of Christian Dior’s decade (1947 – 1957) ‒ and along the way has redrawn the line of succession. The unimpeachable codes of Dior have been updated to the 21st century and just like that, John Galliano’s 15 years of Kabuki styling has been relegated to the footnotes. Overall, it was an entirely complete, calibrated collection, from daywear to suits to coats to gowns, and incredulously, you can wear almost all of it (and fit through doors!), and, they were extraordinarily pretty — and cool. Has he redefined haute couture? Resonantly. Nope, haute couture need not be solely for editorials, red carpets or fantasy. If Raf has it his way, it’s something dynamic without compromising on the workmanship associated with it, what you’d yearn for and actually wear it out when you got your hands on it, all the way being completely at ease and feeling every bit unique.
P.S. I was right all along on how this collection would turn out… :-)