Christian Dior

July 26, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Raf Simons is not a designer obsessed with the past. He leaves the
decade-hopping to his peers, preferring instead to look ahead. And yet his latest Couture collection for Dior—his most completely realized to date, as beautiful as his debut of two years ago, if not as audacious as his
continent-spanning collection from last July—found him looking back. Not at one specific era, but rather at many. Simons was curious, the program notes explained, about the way different time periods informed and influenced subsequent ones. And more than that, he said afterward, he found himself thinking about Christian Dior’s fascination with the Belle Époque and asking himself, “If I had been [working] at that time, what would be my interest, conceptually or technically or architecturally? What would I be excited about?”

The show was divided into eight groups, hopping not decades but centuries—for example, from the Marie Antoinette-inspired pannier silhouettes of the opening to astronauts’ jumpsuits, back to embroidered court jackets and forward again to twenties volumes. Models from each grouping emerged onto the circular set, a launching pad like something out of a sci-fi flick, with curved walls covered in orchids by the thousands. They circulated there to the sounds of Sonic Youth, exposing the clothes from all angles and letting the intricacies and, at other times, the purity of the construction sink in.

Simons’ real feat was just how modern it all looked despite its historicism. He achieved that through lightness. You got the sense that the silk jacquard 18th-century dresses were every bit as weightless as the parachute-fabric flight suits. There was relatively little embellishment on those dresses; the sumptuous, shimmery materials and the voluptuous forms were the story. His flapperish dresses, meanwhile, were dripping not in heavy beads but in high-tech resin fringe.

The other thing that keeps Simons out ahead is his assertion that Couture need not be for special occasions. True luxury is spending five or six figures and wearing something not once or twice, but incorporating it into your daily wardrobe. Sweeping, long-line coats (Edwardian) and the familiar bar jacket (1950s), made unfamiliar with exaggerated shawl collars, will prove tempting to clients. Exquisitely detailed court coats and court jackets (in wool, velvet, even astrakhan) were equally believable as everyday wear, paired with classic knits and trousers. If the finale
dresses—outwardly simple, though, in fact, rather
complex—didn’t quite take off, it was only because of the power of what came before.
—Nicole Phelps
Runway Feed

Christian Dior

May 8, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Dior in Brooklyn. Who would’ve ever imagined those two proper nouns together in a single sentence? Alexander Wang broke the outer-borough barrier back in February when he showed at the Navy Yard’s Duggal Greenhouse. But Dior, the storied French house and LVMH bigwig Bernard Arnault’s baby? It happened tonight, and the likes of Rihanna, Marion Cotillard, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Leelee Sobieski, Allison Williams, Margot Robbie, the artist Sterling Ruby, and designers including Christian Louboutin and Proenza Schouler’s Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough arrived by water taxi and town car to witness fashion history in the making. Bureau Betak spent nearly a week constructing an elevated floor at Duggal that situated the show’s 1,000-plus guests at window level. The Manhattan views vied for attention with the LED light display at the opposite end of the warehouse space.

Neither could compete with the clothes. This was another lively, smart, lovely collection from artistic director Raf Simons, one that married the practical realism the designer says he sees among his new American clients (he’s been at Dior only two years) and typical French chic. Simons took up the silk scarf—le carré, as they say in Paris—as the show’s leitmotif. It meant that these clothes were more fluid than the sculpted and molded silhouettes of some of his previous collections for Dior. Softer and breezier but without sacrificing the clean, modern look that is so identifiably Simons, or skimping on the wearability factor. Despite the show’s laser focus, Simons had propositions for all occasions.

The feminine silhouette was ultra-high-waisted with long, lean trousers and flaring, knee-length skirts (including at least one in sheared fur) scraping the rib cage. On top there were torso-limning, backless silk camisoles in graphic, abstract prints or draped and layered tops with a boxy, geometric fit. Simons explained he found some of the prints in the house archives; others were created for the show. “I wanted to explore print without being too romantic about it,” he said. “I was surprised by how raw and artistic some of the archival scarves were.” You’d never call the prints and patterns in tonight’s show dainty, not when they were boldly juxtaposed three against each other, as in the case of a cocktail dress that combined multicolor sequins with embroidered flowers with chevroned stripes. Simons’ January couture sneaker evolved here into a sport sandal with scarf straps; it gave printed tunics and long silk evening skirts a fresh, zippy attitude.

There were sixty-six looks in the collection. When Dior president and CEO Sidney Toledano made notice of that fact before the show, he told Simons, “Did you know? This is the sixty-sixth year that Dior Inc. U.S.A. exists.” A total coincidence, Simons asserted, but one that had a special meaning for him. “Christian Dior was a bit superstitious, and I am too.” And, more important, “There was always a strong relationship between Mr. Dior and U.S. clients. It makes sense for us to come here now.”
—Nicole Phelps
Runway Feed

Christian Dior

January 17, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Our review will be posted shortly. See the complete collection by clicking the image at left.
Runway Feed

Christian Dior

August 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Fashion had seen nothing like it for years. Outside in the street, there
was hysteria. Inside, the industry’s great and good—Alaïa, Elbaz,
Jacobs, Theyskens, Tisci, Van Assche, Versace, von Furstenberg—gathered
to see Raf Simons debut his first haute couture collection for Christian Dior. That it would be a success seemed a given, what with the evolving
polish and confidence of Simons’ “couture trilogy” for his previous
employer, Jil Sander. That it would be such a triumph was a thrill. The avant-garde outsider from Antwerp insinuated himself into the hallowed history of haute couture with a tour de force
that had both emotional and intellectual
resonance. As the man himself said, “A shift is happening.”

About that outsider thing: It’s a position that has always loaned a
crystal clarity to Simons’ vision and has helped him to the purest
interpretations of his inspirations. Here, he used that unusually
heightened sense of focus to reflect on Christian Dior as architect, a
notion that dovetailed neatly with his own obsession with construction.
The first look—a tuxedo whose jacket was shaped after Dior’s iconic Bar
jacket, one of the most distinctive silhouettes in fashion—established
an innate compatibility that reached across a half-century.

Simons has been engaged with this world for a while. Dior was obviously
the guiding spirit of his fascination with midcentury couture (see the Q&A here) during his
last seasons with Sander. But he approached an actual couture collection
with an appropriate balance of reverence and iconoclasm. One key
silhouette could best be defined as a full-skirted classic ball gown
truncated at the peplum (a quote from a 1952 collection, according to the
run of show), its skirt replaced by black silk cigarette pants. The
formal past, the streamlined future, meeting in the middle. It was the same with
the traditional Bucol silks woven to represent a painting, drips and all,
by Sterling Ruby, one of the contemporary art world’s hottest properties
(and a Simons favorite). Past and future met again in an evening
ensemble that matched the athletic ease of a citron silk knit to the grandeur of
a floor-sweeping silk skirt. And the veils that Stephen Jones contributed
to the finale may have been from Paris in the 1930’s, but there is
timeless allure in that look.

Simons returned to the flared hip of the Bar with a deep-pocketed coat-dress in red cashmere as well as a strapless dress in the same
heartbreaking shade of pink that launched his last Sander show. That was
the kind of subtle personal flourish that married his own story to
Dior’s
history. It also underlined how much of an asset Simons will be not just
to Dior but to couture itself. He can’t help himself; he will bring a
heart-on-his-sleeve human dimension to this remote and rarefied world.

But as he proved today, he certainly won’t be doing it in a low-key way.
Christian Dior’s own obsession—flowers—was translated into salons
lined ceiling to floor with panels of blooms: delphiniums in the blue
room, orchids in the white room, mimosa in the yellow room, and so on.
More than a million all told, making a gorgeous architectural abstraction
of nature. There’s some kind of metaphor about creative processes in
there somewhere, but it’s simpler to leave things with Simons’ own definition
of the day: “a blueprint.”
—Tim Blanks
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