When Dior Created Fashion History...

Zina Tasreen , 06 Jul 2012
Raf Simons taking a much-deserved bow after the incredible Dior Autumn 2012 Couture show
Raf Simons taking a much-deserved bow after the incredible Dior Autumn 2012 Couture show
Derek Blasberg, the influential fashion writer's tweet after the Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture show
Derek Blasberg, the influential fashion writer’s tweet after the show…
Suzy Menkes on Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture show
Suzy Menkes, one of the most influential fashion critics thinks so…

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.

Imran Amed's reaction from the Christian Dior Autumn 2012 show
Even Business of Fashion’s founder/editor Imran Amed is awe-struck…

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.

Marc Jacobs; and Donatella Versace with daughter Allegra Beck at the Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture show
Marc Jacobs; and Donatella Versace with daughter Allegra Beck…
Olivier Theyskens (Theory), Alber Elbaz (Lanvin), Kris van Assche (Dior Homme), at the Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture show
From left to right: Olivier Theyskens of Theory; Alber Elbaz of Lanvin; Kris van Assche of Dior Homme
Azzedine Alaïa and Pierre Cardin at the Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture show
THE legends: Azzedine Alaïa (left) and Pierre Cardin (right)
Christopher Kane and Diane von Fürstenberg at the Dior Autumn 2012 Couture show (Photo courtesy | Dior)
Christopher Kane (left) and Diane von Fürstenberg (right)… (Photo courtesy | Dior)
Inside the hôtel particulier hosting the Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture show (Phoro courtesy | Dior)
Blooming Dior… (Photo courtesy | Dior)
Inside the hôtel particulier hosting the Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture show (Phoro courtesy | Dior)
Heaven. Looks. Like. This. (Photo courtesy | Dior)
Dior Autumn 2012 Couture show (Photo courtesy | Dior)
Breathtaking… (Photo courtesy | Dior)
Dior Autumn 2012 Couture show (Photo courtesy | Dior)
…AndIlostmybreath (Photo courtesy | Dior)
Inside the hôtel particulier hosting the Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture show
Isn’t this ah-may-zing?

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?

Marc Jacobs chitchatting with Anna Wintour at the Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture show (Photo courtesy | Imran Amed/@BoF)
Marc Jacobs chitchatting with Anna Wintour… (Photo courtesy | Imran Amed/@BoF)
Riccardo Tisci & Carine Roitfeld at the Dior Autumn 2012 Couture show (Photo courtesy | Dior)
Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy with Carine Roitfeld, ex-Vogue Paris editor-in-chief and Tom Ford’s BFF (!!!) (Photo courtesy | Dior)

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 iconic Christian Dior 'Bar' jacket...
The iconic Christian Dior ‘Bar’ jacket…

The ‘Bar’ jacket which formed the backbone of the classic 1947 New Look collection, was the basenote of this collection, too.

Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…

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.

Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…

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.

Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…

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!!!

Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture… 

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!

Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Spot Princess Charlene of Monaco on the front row…

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.

Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…

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.

Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…

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.

Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…

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.

Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…

Okay, I could do without fur, though. But moving on to…

Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…

…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?

Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture
Christian Dior Autumn 2012 Couture…

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… :-)

P.P.S. Can’t believe Lisa Haydon’s good fortunes ‒ she watched all of this in person! :[email protected]

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