Christian Dior Ready To Wear Spring Summer 2013 Paris

When Raf Simons presented his first Christian Dior haute couture show in July he covered the walls of a Parisian manor house with fresh flowers. It was a starkly different setting at his debut ready-to-wear collection for the house. In pristine white rooms, with shadow boxes cut out in the walls lined with billowing pastel colored voile, the audience sat on black lacquered salon chairs as the designer sent out a collection that examined the idea of liberation.

In a perfect example of how haute couture can have a trickle down effect on the ready-to-wear of a house, this collection touched on many of the same themes Simons first explored two months ago with haute couture.

Once more there was the tribute to the iconic Dior Bar jacket, again diaphanous ball gowns were turned into mini dresses worn this time, with short shorts instead of slacks, and iridescent flower print puff skirted gowns with second skin black knit tops, echoed one of the most striking looks of the haute couture show – a chartreuse gown that Julianne Moore wore to the Emmys earlier this week.

What distinguished this collection from its haute couture predecessor was how Simons loosened up his structured silhouettes. Cutting dresses in A-line baby doll shapes, using a more voluminous line and pleating on sculptural smoking jackets and adding movement though the draping of colorful fabrics across the body to establish asymmetrical hemlines, were all ways Simons liberated his collection.

The injection of high-octane hues and the use of iridescent fabrics were two bold new developments for Dior. Simons employed it to great effect as organza overlays on short trapeze dresses, lichen-like beaded embellishments on shift dresses, and delicate knit ensembles that let a stronger underlying color peek though their porous fabric.

In his show notes, Simons is quoted as saying that he is a fan of minimalism. “It is a conceptual approach I like, but it is not the only one I like. Neither is it only one type of woman that I want to appeal to,” reads the statement.

With this sweetly sensual show, which was able to combine a streamlined aesthetic, with the heritage of a house known for its ultra feminine sensibilities, Simons is sure to convert more than a few fans of opulence and audacity to his modern take on romanticism.

- Jessica Michault