To whom much is given, much is expected, A LOT was expected of Raf Simons at Dior and he delivered in spades.
It was always going to be the most anticipated show of the year, his debut show for Dior but no sooner had Raf Simons been appointed to take over at Dior did fashion tongues start wagging, there were mostly cheers and some doubts, most of which centred around the fact that the house might be too much of a house for Mr Simons to handle, his genteel hands were more suited to Jil Sander instead of couture because Raf Simons has never done couture, his minimalist perfection was more adaptable to RTW. Dior has had its ups and DOWNS…just google Galliano and you’ll see how low. But we’re moving on, with a new Dior under the creative leadership of Mr Simons. Yes it was always going to be a big show, we were always going to hold our breaths and wish for nothing but the best from him, just like we were used to seeing when he was at the helm of Jil Sander. Raf Simons made Milan Fashion Week just that extra special, it was like the satisfactory cherry on top of a very multilayered and sometimes too rich, cake of Milan, where we are always feted with fashion palooza of the greats; Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Gucci…and just when it was getting to be a bit much, Jil Sander came along and always left us with that satisfactory sigh of something done just right.
But at Dior, we expected more from him. A whole lot more.
There was camaraderie in the front row, with designers like Marc Jacobs, Alber Elbaz, Pierre Cardi, Alaia, Diane von Furstenberg, Donatella…present, to show support for a fellow designer. It was lovely to see.
And the show, even lovelier; he never lost his signature charm and romance, instead, he bent the will of couture and turned it into a new corner…gone were the confounding clothes, which in the past we have struggled to make head or tail of, welcome in this new era of a gentler, more palatable and more adaptable couture. His skilful hands shone so majestically, it was breathtaking.
Give me life. Raf certainly did.
Raf Simons is not one for showiness rather, you get the sense that he just does his thing and lets the work take centre stage. And his work in this first collection, was greatly applauded. It was back to the Dior of old, classics remastered and his proof, if any was to be made for his right to this job, was in the detail; rounded hips, intricate detailing, finely cut panelling. In this Dior, the Bar Jacket , one of Dior’s most iconic pieces, lived on and was re-imagined in several lengths, styles and infused with Simon’s favoured love for simplicity, detailed constructivism and symmetry, the ball gown enthralled us with their pockets and easy silhouettes and the detail confounded us to happy stupor. The colours, oh the colours, made us fall in love all over again; sweetheart pinks, gorgeous reds, divine blues and a mix of soft on softer like the block bandeau evening gown…Timeless simplicity, bedazzling construction, even in the simplest of pieces like the navy deep V tea length dress. He reminded us of the refinement of Dior, the glamour he brought back to fashion after the second world war…glamour albeit restrained, quality and craftsmanship. He reflected the measuredness and sensibility of that time, almost like a Keep Calm moment for the fashion industry and a big moment for the house. It couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time, considering the battle following the Galliano kerfuffle.
He brought to couture an understanding, made it even more romantic; soft, sweet romance that was enthralling. And this above all, is what makes him just the man for the job because to evoke such emotion in couture is a hard task to master. Couture can be cold and there are very few who understand it. It is a wealthy man’s market so there is wealth of difference from RTW but Raf Simons softened and deepened our love for couture. This much can be said for the collection as a whole, it was the perfect love story; Christian Dior’s history and Raf Simon’s vision, which resulted in well thought out, well structured and divinely crafted clothes, that resonated with all.
Yes Raf does romance like no other.
Simons is indeed a genius of our time and we need him to stick around. He proves that fashion is not just hard and fast and senseless, there’s that sometimes, for creativity is often senseless to the observer until the end result, but he shows that fashion can be humble, worn and fun, even in the most rigorous of forms. Fashion matters, I cannot say this enough but it does, it is the most intricate identifier of self and culture and a unifier of both at the same time, besides being a multi billon dollar industry, there is that too. But Simons is one of the very few designers who, through his talent, craft and aesthetic, deepens the appreciation for creativity, establishes the importance of mastering your vision, tapping into to your strengths and a testament to remaining true to and working damn hard to sell, that vision.
New designers need to see that. Talent and Creativity may take you there but the hard work is what keeps you there.
Its not that complicated really, if you look at it from both points of view, its about finding the pleasurable middle ground where fashion meets sensibility and that junction is anything but a bore once you get it right.