Dior's New New Look: The Verdict

The house of Dior has been through a bit. John Galliano went, Bill Gaytten – his right-hand man – stayed (for a bit); then Raf Simons was brought in and everything was fine. Until he left. And one of the biggest jobs in fashion was up for grabs, yet again – a design team duo led by Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux stepping in, and doing so incredibly well at that, during the interim. And then came the announcement: Maria Grazia Chiuri, one half of the much-loved wunderkind Valentino duo, would take the mantle. To some it seemed like a strange decision, taking one half of a designer pairing so entrenched into another brand – surely it would be hard to break the distinction? But to others, and of course most importantly Dior, it seemed like a no-brainer, striking gold.

 

 Dior Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris

 

Today's collection felt good. It felt right. The opening series of looks and continued references to fencing throughout seemed especially modern, fresh, and new. It worked. One could even look a little deeper into them and see how there was a little still of that sportswear sensibility that Simons had brought with him combined with old-school heritage Dior – a fencing vest is not dissimilar to a waist-cinching New Look silhouette.

 

 Dior Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris

 

These combined with ballerina tutu skirts so that there was throughout a masculine and feminine mix at play. Tailoring was in black or white, sent out in blocks, and bustier-corset details continued with tape straps that read "Christian Dior" while other design statements said "Dio(R)evolution." And the intention was that this collection was a new revolution, a new era at Dior – not least because Chiuri is the first woman designer at the house. And that's big news. It's exciting news.
And so "feminist" became both a recurring theme and word and there was even a T-shirt that read "We should all be feminists" – though this sartorial text was less successful than the slogan style of the others, which clearly riffed on previous Dior catch lines such as the former "J'adore Dior," which now became "J'adior" or "Christian Dior J'adior." It was clever.

 

 Dior Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris

 

A collection of two halves, the first played to the tailoring and daywear element of a Dior wardrobe, while the latter was a parade of pretty embroidered dresses that had all the strokes of a designer who had been at Valentino doing much the same thing. Here they were lighter and one could say a little more relevant, toned down into what Chiuri defined in the opening line of the show notes as being "fashion that resembles the women of today." Of course, we'd all love to wear a fancy frock, Dior or Valentino, but contemporary life sadly does not always permit it. Her opening mission statement continued: "I strive to be attentive and open to the world."

 

 Dior Fashion Show Ready-to-wear Collection Spring Summer 2017 Paris

 

A huge applause greeted the designer at the end, and this felt like a new chapter with a great upcoming story to tell. It was a solid collection, with strength and a new minimalist sensibility among a fashion world right now that loves a bit of eclectic clutter.

 

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