“I’d like one of those suits, and a couple of those boots,“ Dior guest Dakota Johnson said. “The show was awesome, really edgy.”
The star of the moment in Fifty Shades of Grey might as well have said “Those boots”, for all eyes at the Dior show were on the seductive footwear with Lucite heels that the designer Raf Simons had already shown in January’s haute couture.
Intriguingly, some of the finest pieces in this down-to-earth (or at least down-to-elegant city street) collection had elements from the past that the designer is making his own. First, a long, shrug-on, fondant pink coat was an atavistic reminder of one that Raf had produced in his final collection for Jil Sander. The fashion world had imagined that exquisitely stream-lined tailoring was the reason for Dior choosing him as Creative Director.
If that were so, President and CEO of LVMH, Bernard Arnault, sitting front row, must have rejoiced in this Dior collection, with a focus on real clothes with a few lively pops of ingenuity – like the wildly patterned body suit that was also grounded in couture.
“I like the idea that couture provides the initial concept. I had so many reactions and it makes couture seem more modern,” the designer said.
As an offering to Dior’s luxury clients, this was a near-faultless collection. It had not just coats but credible trouser suits, long and shapely in their tweedy jackets, the trousers cropped above the ankle. The proportions may not be for everyone, but the ‘off’ tones of jewel-coloured tweed were compelling.
“I wanted the collection to deal with nature and femininity in a different way,” Raf said. “Away from the garden and the flowers to something more liberated, darker and more sexual.”
I must admit that I did not feel that sexual charge (maybe I should have consulted Dakota!), nor did I think in any shape or form that this Dior collection changed the direction of modern fashion. I did think, however, that Raf was cutting closer to the body, and was bolder with his patches of coloured fur. I never forget that he started as a menswear designer and his womenswear collections still feel slightly like a work in progress.
But through this baptism by fire, Raf Simons is constructing a new Dior. It is all about architecture, not decoration, which runs counter to the style and skill of Christian Dior himself. But the two did meet in surprising places. Dior’s fascination with leopard prints in 1947 – nearly seventy years ago – came back for Autumn/Winter 2015 as digitally blown-up animal prints.
And the sexually-charged bodysuit? Dior reinvented the corset in his time to re-draw the feminine silhouette. In its way, that onesie is talking the same language.