Stepping into the Christian Dior venue the audience was transported to the inside of a tropical botanical garden where vibrant hot house flowers and green vines wrapped around support pillars and dangled down from the rafters as if slowly, but ever so surly consuming the manmade structure. It is an image that could also easily correspond to Raf Simons’s tenure at Dior, covering the fashion house’s foundation with something organic, exotic and new.
The cerebral designer pushed harder and dared more this season than he ever has; playing with proportions, fundamental design structure and his characteristically unusual color palette. He brought exotic, perhaps even poisonous, flowers to life in this conceptual show that examined the idea of how to blend together the worlds of artifice and reality; a sartorial universe overflowing with statement outfits that had sporty designs juxtaposed against highly feminine floral prints and a real exploration of volume and proportion.
“It’s about ‘Les Femmes Fleurs’ and it’s about nature and gardens, but the big difference, I think, is that how he perceived that and translated that,” said Simons after the show. “I see it now evolving to also something very different, a very different form language, a very different attitude, more modernity, more futurism, but still with the same kind of principles, still with the romance, and still with the softness and still with the movement in all kinds of femininity. So in that sense it’s the same.”
There was a feeling in this show that Simons was studying new avenues on which to convey sensuality. He would cut a diagonal pleated skirt with a scooped out hole over the hipbone. He sent out a series of tailor cropped black tuxedo jackets that came wrapped to the body in a way that left slivers of skin exposed at the sides or midriff. A classic lean jacket would be crafted with a collar that curves down at the back to bare the nape of the neck. And some stand out, deceptively simple, shirt dresses featured a dramatic open back or bare shoulders. Each look highlighted an unexpected erogenous zone that Dior’s clientele will surely be willing to test out.
There were some pieces in this collection, in particular the black shorts with pleated flower printed silks sprouting out from below that popped up a number of times throughout the show, and moved from the realm of wearable to the theoretical. But overall Simons produced outfits for his models to wear - with their gilded eyes and glimmering crystal eyebrows - that provoked the sartorial status quo to the precipice of modernity.
In the end this collection didn’t so much stir the soul but rather stimulated the intellect. It was a thinking woman’s collection and Simon’s gave her a lot to ponder.