The old adage “there is nothing new under the sun” was turned on its head at the Christian Dior haute couture show on Monday. Designer Raf Simons reached back into the past and cherry-picked symbolic silhouettes of bygone eras and then proceeded to give them a futuristic spin. It made for a combination that felt revolutionary, provocative and yet completely of the times we live in.
In the silver-mirrored enclosed Dior show space, a visually graphic scaffolding, painted pristine white, had been erected. The two-tiered metal runway was then softened further by the addition of a bubble gum pink carpet that lined the floors and two open staircases. Resulting in a mise-en-scene that was dramatic and romantic in equal parts.
The same could be said for this collection, which was filled with as many beautiful flower-embellished full-skirted gowns as it was with vibrant psychedelic multicolored wool bodysuits. The riotous mix of bold colors, crystal beading embellishments, lace panels and plastic used to create each thoroughly unique and highly structured mini dress was a feast for the eye and lovely to behold. As were the impressive patent leather thigh high-boots (their clear heels soled in shimmering crystals) and flower-printed plastic rain coats, which finished off many of the looks. And a shout-out must go to Guiso Palau and his sliced apart ponytails, that he then reattached with metal rings. It was the perfect sleek foil to all the impactful ensembles.
It was easy to see the influence not only of Mr. Dior and his bar suit but also the works of André Corrège, Pierre Cardin (who trained with Dior) and possibly Bob Mackie for the show's vertical striped sequined body suits. But even so, each ensemble could never be mistaken for anyone other than Simons. His sophisticated and unusual combinations of colors, fabrics and embellishments on meticulously tailored designs have become his own unique sartorial calling card.
It might be true that it has all been done before, but what made this collection work was that it culled together the best, or perhaps most iconic, elements of fashion’s past, and then the designer was able to envision them in a completely new way. Which brings to mind another old adage that says, "If we don’t learn from the past we are destined to repeat it." Simons has clearly been diligent in his fashion history studies and as such has been able to find a thoroughly original way forward for Dior.