Do you remember the first piece of designer clothing you ever purchased? I do; it was a big thing for me, coming from a family that had made an art of bargain shopping. It was a blue on blue pinstripe Christian Dior dress shirt and tie. Marc Bohen was creative director back then. Lines were clean, and silhouettes very traditional. Bohen, in his almost 30 years at the helm, stayed close to the house signature, never straying too far from the founder’s catalog.
Raf Simons, however, is not Marc Bohen and this isn’t your mother’s Dior line. A year has passed since Simons left Jil Sander, and while his first two collections for the house looked at first like the Dior catalog and than his own, what he presented today was a collection that is new, a Raf Simons stamp and the Dior brand.
Set in a tent filled with hanging flowers at the Musee Rodin, Simons’ spring is heavy on bright, vivid florals and they’re pleated whereever they show up. They fanned from shoulders, from hems, and even burst their way from the back of black suit coats, an effect that is rather aggressive [perhaps those flowers are carrying switchblades?]. Some skirts started off like tulips over the thighs, which is not always the most flattering of shapes, then ended in tight bands at or below the knee. Then, there was some deconstruction going on where shoulders were left bare and overlays carried the message, “hyperrealness in the daytime.”
The collection is quite attractive, very contemporary, yet to a large degree quite wearable. Okay, one might have to watch the overlays on those strapped skirts when getting in and out of a vehicle (just don’t scoot), but there really isn’t anything here that one might consider inappropriate. Simons could have stopped at this point and be quite pleased that he had presented a solid collection that made a strong statement.
He didn’t stop there. When models returned for their final walk, they came out in metallic floral jacquard gowns. Every one of them. It was a whole new collection within the collection. The audience was pleasantly stunned.
Simons refers to the contemporary Dior woman as, “a distinct new tribe, sophisticated and savage at the same time.” This collection is a heads up. Dior is changing to match the vision of Raf Simons. We might want to pay attention.