For his third couture collection for Dior (exactly a year since taking the role of creative director) Raf Simons took his audience beyond the Parisienne walls of the Avenue Montaigne and sent them on a multi-cultural journey across the world. Simons commented:
“This collection evolved to be about Dior, not just being about Paris and France, but about the rest of the world and how many fashion cultures impact on the house and on myself”
Influences of Asia, the Americas and even African masai were evident in the pure fabrics, bold stripes, bright colours, and tribal patterns. There were peplum flaps attached to the iconic Bar jacket, mirroring the layers of a Japanese kimono – showing that Simons is keeping to his well-known signatures, yet confidently evolving them every season.
Other Raf-signatures such as houndstooth and black wool-day dresses and strapless numbers were all present, however almost unrecognisable amongst the worldly themes influencing them this season. The pieces were beautifully adorned with African beadwork or sculpted with tulip hems. African flags, Japanese Obi belts and dresses were featured throughout – this was Dior as seen through the eyes of an African tribeswoman or Japanese Geisha.
Described by style.com’s Tim Blanks as a “different kind of dynamic in couture”, it was clear that Simons sought to show the house of Dior as part of a global fashion culture, rather than being so closely associated with Paris, as couture so often is.
The variety of it all was said by some to be hard to make sense of, however the mix was everything, the essence and underlying message of the collection. Simons may have been breaking boundaries by straying away from convention – yet the Dior tradition wasn’t lost: the former founder himself was a self-confessed internationalist. In addition, as an homage to the old master Dior, Simons reproduces two dresses from the original house each collection.
This new couture, in my eyes, is truly welcomed as a refreshing take on classic haute-couture traditions. Simons noted, “If we don’t adapt to what women in society are now about, couture might disappear”. So maybe it’s this adapting modernity that will save it — thinking about couture as taking fashion tradition and making it relevant to different cultures (and prospective clients, because what is couture without its clients?!)
Either way, all I can say is once again Simons has amazed us – and will no doubt continue to do so.