We have lift off. In a stellar Christian Dior haute couture show on Monday, designer Raf Simons elevated fashion into a new stratosphere. Where the gilded lily era of Marie Antoinette merged with that of the crisp and clean age of space travel.
This time the designer's continued love affair with blooms expressed itself via an antiseptic white circular show space, it's reflective sliver walls festooned with pristine white orchids. Once all the VIPs, including but not limited to Charlize Theron with Sean Penn, Rosamund Pike, Olivia Palermo, Ziyi Zhang, Isabelle Huppert, Valérie Trierweiler and Marion Cotillard, took their seats (Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Watson would grace the front row of the second show) Simons began his graceful presentation accompanied by a jarring Sonic Youth soundtrack.
In sartorial vignettes the designer sent out clusters of girls all dressed in different rifts on the same fundamental idea or silhouette. Simons started off with a group of modest floral motif gowns that balance voluminous skirts with sporty, mostly sleeveless tops. As the fresh faced models moved randomly about the central stage, the gowns floated as if puffed up by a gust of air, making them feel both futuristic and yet reminiscent of something from 18th century. It was this blurring of the lines of time and space, so that everything felt familiar and new in equal parts, that was the challenge the designer sent out for himself this season.
“What I was attracted to was an idea of architectural construction-that is a very Dior attitude- and how the foundations of one era are based on another, how the future is based on the past; that is what I found fascinating,” read a quote by Simons in the show notes.
From those ultra feminine opening gowns Simons moved into a series of delicately embroidered cosmonaut silk jumpsuits or dresses crafted with an oversized bomber jacket style. Again the looks were both familiar and fresh, particularly when paired with ombre “talons virgule” heels courtesy of consulting cobbler Francesco Russo.
Then he moved into tailoring, creating long and lean floor slimming coats in luxe furs or dark wools paired with strong hued trousers. In fact, the coats in this collection were some of the best the designer has ever done for the house. Besides the down to the ground options, Simons also designed some stunning, delicately beaded, frock coats (which probably already have a wait list) and a selection of shorter shawl collar options that will be perfect for those looking for a more understated statement outerwear.
Simons name checked a number of time periods that he wanted to reinterpret on the runway- 1920s flappers, 1950s Dior, 1910 linear lines. But it was the mélange futurism and modern fantasy of the 18th century court dress that came across most strongly in this collection. If there were one caveat to this show it would be that perhaps the designer had spread his exploration out a bit too far. It would have been better served if Simons had cut back on a sequence or two.
However, that is a minor quibble for a collection that really was out of this world.