WOW. And in one fell swoop Raf Simons redefined what modern is. And that didn’t mean sci-fi futuristic or normcore anodyne.
What it meant was an incredible collection that continued on from where his couture show started off in July and gave us historical clothes and references like we’ve never seen them before.
“I started to think ‘What is modern?'” explained Simons in his show notes. “It was an idea of confronting what people now think is an aesthetic that is modern – it felt more modern to go to the far past, not the ‘modernised’ look of the last decade.”
And in doing so he managed to make history look new and modern look old. Never have frock coats or tapestry cuffs and turn-ups looked so appealing, relevant and real.
So he borrowed – and sweetly added a “strict” accuracy disclaimer in the notes – from the Eighteenth century onwards for a collection that somehow managed to combine the French royal court with the uniforms of pilots and astronauts, school girls and skaters and make it all cool, all utterly desirable and leaving the audience, frankly, wanting more.
Court coats in bright cerise or marigold worn with skate shorts; bar jacket dresses punctuated with poppers instead of buttons on the hip; high Edwardian collars that could so easily drift into the realms of scuba wear; vest-top dresses that revived his full skirt and top combinations from his first couture season even; languid night dresses; leather-laced jackets belted on an empire line; flashes of rich embroidery here and there and just when you least expected. This was everything and more, and on paper probably shouldn’t have made sense. Yet it did – it was a revelation.
“The challenge was to bring the attitude of contemporary reality to something very historical; bringing easiness to something that could be perceived as theatrical,” elaborated Simons. “It is the attitude that matters.”
There was drama, there was character and there was fantasy here – a collection that will appeal to Dior customers old and new (everyone’s wearing those bejewelled couture trainers of his right now). And there was tangibility.
Move over normcore, Raf’s ignited a renaissance.
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RAF SIMONS went back to his sportswear roots and brought them into the world of Dior this afternoon for a collection that very much confirmed and continued the vision we have seen him cultivate since his appointment as creative director of the house in April 2012.
It’s one of youth and modernity, Simons marrying respect for the house with a new relevance. It was something we saw at his couture outing back in January when he sent out his gowns teamed with trainers and it was something we saw again today: this was a luxury take on sportswear combined with masculine tailoring and purposefully jarring colourways – blue with green, pink with red, yellow with black.
There came thick lacing down the sides of shapely jackets or climbing up waists of lithe dresses; they later appeared on arms of cape-sleeved coats or hip pockets for a twist on a bustle, before quilting sections of the collection – for skirts mostly – began.
Wavering asymmetrical-to-blunt skirt and dress hemlines continued the sense of jarring and jolting and will no doubt soon be spotted on the likes of Emma Watson, such is Simons’s wide wardrobe appeal. Meanwhile double dresses (a short one beneath, a cartoonish silhouette of one on top) slipped off shoulders and boasted sparkling jewels at the top of a striking skirt slit.
In his notes, Simons talked about the city, how women dress in it and a sense of freedom, which accounted then for the emphasis on tailoring over dresses and gowns (it would have been nice to see a few more in fact), and that vibrant and vivid palette. Simons knows where he wants to take Dior and this was an example of how he’s rigorously sticking to that.