Dior’s First Show With Raf Simons

Hannah Yakobi is an award-winning journalist and communications specialist. Throughout her career, she has written for the National Post, OK! Magazine, the Ottawa Citizen, Canwest newspaper network and dozens of publications around the world. Currently, she is the Editor-in-Chief of FAJO Magazine, a Canadian publication with staff in Canada, U.S. and U.K.

Putting together a fashion show burdens designers with a lot of pressure – not only does it test their creative flair, but it is a very challenging process overall: there are logistical demands, expectations from the public and the industry, and the necessity to work together with a lot of stakeholders.

Now, imagine a designer who is producing his first show for a renowned fashion label that has fallen from grace about a year ago. All eyes are on the catwalk, the stakes are high, and the anticipation is intense. Such was the atmosphere surrounding Raf Simons’ first show for Dior that was held as part of the Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week on Monday.

Overall, the collection was very well received worldwide. There was a lot of very positive press coverage and everyone has been talking about this runway presentation ever since. To view the video of this collection, clickhere.

Having watched the show online and viewed about a dozen photography essays from the event, I have concluded that this collection is very much in-line with Dior’s classic glamourous look. One thing that always irked me about Galliano’s attitude towards this fashion label (and I know that many will support me on this but many will also disagree) was his extreme mixing of fabrics, styles, objects and items of various inordinate nature (you may recall my April column regarding this). Every designer has their own artistic attitude towards fashion, but I always felt that Galliano’s designs were not reflective of the look Dior has built over the years. Simons, on the other hand, brings a fresh feel with his latest line. He does not recycle the work of other designers that have been at Dior’s helm but neither does he stick solely to his own style whose growth we have been able to witness during his time at Jil Sander. Simons skillfully combines his craftsmanship with his signature classic cuts and Dior’s renowned aesthetic of elegance. He also injects a lot of femininity that was often missing in Galliano’s work, and this is not only true for the clothing (think cinched waists and full skirts), but also the show’s setting (the entire room had its walls covered with fresh flowers, from floor to ceiling, creating a true Eden-esque atmosphere).

At the same time, however, I have several concerns about this collection. Although the tailoring is impeccable, many pieces are very simple. There are too many high-waisted pants, single-coloured numbers and there is also a severe lack of accessories. The Belgian designer is well-known for his love of minimalism, but I am not sure how well that would work for Dior in the long term. Also, although some pieces are truly stunning (including the red silk gown that is princess-worthy), there are a few others that look quite unflattering (for example, the floral pattern mini-dress paired with skinny pants). A common criticism from some of my friends has also been that the collection is not very Haute Couture-esque and is very “bare.”

Overall, I think that Simons did an excellent job in dealing with the incredible responsibility placed in his hands – he was certainly in the spotlight since the day he accepted the Artistic Director position at Dior and he clearly spent a lot of energy on this collection; the floral theme was skillfully intertwined throughout the show and the models floated on the catwalk in a very angelic way. Over the next couple of years, I am looking forward to find out what Simons has planned. It would be great to see him step out of his comfort zone and experiment even further – he is an incredible designer and will undoubtedly do great things for Dior.