Innovation exploded at the Christian Dior show on Thursday with an extraordinary setting that will have plenty to talk about all season long. With just less than two years since Raf Simons has been at Dior – which seems more than that – he has already caught everyone’s attention whether it be in a bad or esoteric manner. From international actresses, supermodels, to important political figures and the Princess of Thailand, all made their presence at this fashion forward trendsetting show.
His spring 2014 collection greeted the audience with a mystical setting of real and fake neon vines of flowers hanging on the ceiling that simulated Dior’s secret garden in a much more futuristic statement. It seemed he wanted to bring back the nature theme memories of when he presented his first ever couture show for the house – thousands of flowers mounted on walls – that celebrated the codes of the late Mr. Christian Dior himself. His spring 2013 ready-to-wear collection focused on tailoring and modern versions of the iconic Bar jackets, and so did his recent fall ladylike collection. But these vines conveyed a different message that one understood after the show. Dior was about to take a severe transformation for many.
He began the show with new interpretations of the bar jacket cropped to reveal some skin and be worn with a hybrid of shorts with pleated floral skirts; some referred to them as skorts. He also introduced unique shirt dresses in blue with twisted details and surprisingly pleasing colorful sleeveless satin tops that were the most ladylike; an ice blue top Kasia Struss wore was provocative paired with a white below-the-knee skirt that was cut very high at the back.
Fetish-y were the neon trumpet skirts – in yellow, silver, and blue – that barely covered the models legs and side-pleated skirts with an exposed hip-bone on the left side, together with a few balloon skirts that felt wearable and embroidered cropped tops with an opening keyhole in the middle. There were a number of varsity style looks etched with Dior badges and pleasing knitwear pieces paired with hanging garden inspired jewelry that felt the most comfortable to follow on this new journey.
Questionable were his awkward embroidered dresses with side pleats that looked kitsch and retro dresses with messages printed on them like “Alice Garden,” but they psychologically respected the signature codes of Dior; big change in designs, same codes hidden. I was more fascinated with his two finale black looks – one bar jacket and a coat dress – with insets of floral printed pleats on the back. These looks screamed Raf Simons’ injection to the new and more revealing Dior. Even noticeable were his final metallic looks of silver dresses no one would have expected to see at this show.
Now, was this collection hard to swallow? It certainly will be for some buyers who won’t know how their average customer will react next season to these clothes. But in fashion, there is a whole different point of view. Mr. Simons is a risk taker, and that was not a secret here anymore. He’s had enough of trying to keep Dior contemporary, because we all know he was not meant to stick with the same styles. Take for example how he has revolutionized men’s fashion with his personal label being one of the most anticipated and innovative shows of the season. He is the first to set trends offering new creative skills.
|A Christian Dior Spring 2014 New Bar Suit Jacket with a pleated floral back and leather lace heels by Raf Simons.|
His clothes are never meant to be seen as ordinary clothes. They’re meant to be seen as intriguing laboratory experiments you have to risk it like in Dior’s case now. And that’s why I admire about him so much. He said he wanted to take the literal DNA of the house with a different aesthetic – that being his creative injection – that would turn out to offer so much new techniques in one show without letting go of the strictly ladylike codes Dior is known for. He threw in so many ideas that we’ll probably see other designers implement soon in their collections – pleat techniques, lace shoes, twisted techniques and shirt dresses - but in may have been too much for right now where he’s at. The clothes were nevertheless magical on the runway in my opinion with a great taste of color and exquisite tailoring.
Mr. Simon’s is molding the future of the label. Many have already criticized this collection as a horrible one, but it should be when you’re not exposed to seeing too many ideas in one show. His new tailoring may take time to get used to from what John Galliano did, but with the way his shaking things rapidly, he's developed an intense niche. And you can’t deny Raf is a very talented designer no matter what. Fashion is evolution, and with Simons' noteworthy experiments at Dior demonstrates he is here to stay and catch everyone’s attention.