Yesterday saw the debut of Christian Dior’s new designer Raf Simons presenting his first Dior Haute Couture collection for autumn/winter 2012. With only four months since his appointment as artistic director anticipation for the Belgium designer’s first collection for the luxury French fashion house was high, and all eyes were on whether his minimalist and linear style would work for the iconic brand.
As one of the most talked about debuts, the front row was filled with a who’s who of fashion from likes of designers Marc Jacobs and Riccardo Tisci who were both linked to the head designer role, as well as rival designers including Donatella Versace, Pierre Cardin, Alber Elbaz and Diane von Furstenberg, and a host of celebrities including Marion Cotillard, Sharon Stone and Princess Charlene of Monaco.
After more than a year of being centre of fashion gossip since the dismissal of John Galliano, the house has been looking for a new, stronger direction. This was achieved yesterday with a collection that mixed perfectly the heritage of Dior with the cinched waists and full skirts, while still remaining touches of Simons’ signature style adding a modern feminine feel to the house.
The staging for Simons’ debut was just as extravagant as the anticipation with thousands of flowers used to decorate the five colour-coded rooms that the catwalk wound through, with all the walls covered floor to ceiling with either blue delphiniums, white orchids, red and orange roses or pink roses and peonies – this was a show-stopping stage for a gorgeous and feminine collection.
"Flower women" is how Christian Dior referred to his 1947 ‘New Look’ silhouette of cinched waists and full skirts that resembled inverted flowers, and Simons cleverly revitalised the ‘New Look’ by pairing high-waisted A-line mini dresses with contemporary black pants.
Dior’s love for flowers, continued throughout the collection with many of the structured bodices stitched to resemble petals, with subtle folds of fabric that looked like new buds, as well as the floral bouquet colour palette of bright reds, pale pinks, eclectic blues and yellows.
There was sophistication and restraint throughout the 54 looks that Simons sent out, which for some by avoiding the theatrics of the Galliano years could look like he hadn’t done too much, but this was a clever, subtle homage to Dior as well as mixing in his own modern approach, which shows that change is a good thing.