Christian Dior lost one of the world’s greatest designers with the departure of Raf Simons in October of last year. His short tenure at the house saw a dramatic shift in style and cut, ushering in a new wave of minimalism, which quickly filtered into the everyday wardrobes of women worldwide. His work for Couture season was his best; elongated silhouettes, strange compositions, and thoughtful, intelligent references. The in-house design team for this year’s Spring/Summer collection had a thankless task, but they were wise to follow the successful steps Simons had already laid down. They certainly put on a better show than Bill Gaytten’s attempt following John Galliano’s departure in 2011. Shapes, styling and presentation were all familiar, and the Couture elements Simons used so wisely were shown to great effect. The minimalism in cut and silhouette reached new levels and when compared to the magnificently extravagant Couture work Dior was creating just a few years ago, you do wonder if things have become too simple.
The show began with a series of off-the-shoulder knee length dresses, in panels of silk, some embroidered, and some artfully folded into pleats. A contrast between richly embellished panels and stark, clean lines was a running theme, and just one example of continuity in design from Simons’ work. The variety presented was fitting for both young and old customers; short, flouncy skirts, in light, printed fabrics were charming and wearable, whereas heavier embellished pencil skirts had a more mature appeal.
The iconic bar jacket was reinterpreted in glossy, heavy fabric, with a wider neckline and a softer line down the body. It had a fresh, modern feel, and will surely resonate well with the Couture customer. A number of trousers were also presented, paired with fun, frilled tops; these seemed disconnected from the rest of the collection, and looked awkward and uncomfortable. A number of black sheer dresses found more success, and these looked timelessly elegant, yet refreshingly current. Beautifully cut, intricately embroidered and beaded, these resembled real masterpieces of Couture craftsmanship. Ankle length gowns in dove grey, lilac and baby blue were showstoppers, and were a true testament to the talent of the in-house team as a whole. Splashes of yellow ochre and fiery orange brought vibrancy to the garments, and some more of this may have been more welcome over the continuous black. The collection, overall, had a classy, elegant feel, with little modern twists and elements of Couture brilliance throughout. The rapturous applause at the end of the show was very well deserved. It’s no easy task creating a collection so accomplished without a designer, but the Atelier of Christian Dior is an experienced one. Designers may come and go from the fashion house, but Dior's brand will live on forever.
Written by: Andrew MacKinnon
Edited by: Phoebe Russell
Photos by: Maxim Sapozhnikov and style.com