paris fashion week: christian dior

(images via style)

so! other than simply announcing (and this only because i can’t resist) that there were more than a few looks which bore a suspiciously striking resemblance to his a/w 2012 collection for jil sander/audition for his current role (but then, haven’t i been saying this all along?), i have really nothing but praise to give to raf simons for his paris fashion week a/w 2013 collection chez christian dior (even as i maintain, of course, that he’ll never do it justice like john galliano (and perhaps the lvmh kids ought be casting a worried side-eye at oscar de la renta, these days).

but maybe no matter. the important things to take away here are that, first, the designer paid the right homage to the house archives (see a/w 2010, resort 2011, s/s 2011, a/w 2011, s/s 2012, a/w 2012, s/s 2013), and that secondly, the fashionies and critics can/will feel smug that mr. simons has turned out a collection of such an impressive caliber. the clothes were adventurous and wearable at once, and yet, never pandering to the haute sensibilities that remind us they, after all, dress celebrities. instead, in other words, they felt real, and relate-able, even as them seemed luxe as we of course know they are.

so! as you can imagine, the critics are itching to get out with their thoughts, so i don’t believe i can hold the gate from breaking any longer. here we go: “Some of the pieces were delicately embellished by motifs from a collaboration between Dior and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts,” explained the daily beast. “Early drawings by Warhol were embroidered onto select garments in the elegant collection, providing patches of color and art as decor on monotone outfits in sometimes unexpected places – think a lone golden shoe placed mid-thigh or an image of a woman’s face across the bust on a delicate white dress. The collection also included bursts of color, like the sophisticated, Red Riding Hood-type coat which was one of several re-workings of early Dior pieces.”

and elle opined that “(r)endered in surreal embroideries, the fragility of those flowers and eyes, fragments of colour and images of shoes (also depicted on the new Oxford bags), were a thing to behold. But it was also good that Raf had asked the atelier to explore knitwear – bold in black and white with exaggerated cable tracks running the full length of a dress – it could only have been made in a couture atelier. And although some of the crochet pieces over skirts might look bulky on anyone other than a model, at least this showed Raf exploring his more avant-garde roots.”

surprisingly falling in with my own opinion was the la times, which rapidly clipped at us that the show was “(m)odern enough to wear for the everyday, but special, wearable art. The classic Dior Bar jacket and skirt done in gray denim. Sculpted jackets over bustiers and skirts. Incredible knitwear, including a crocheted suit. The house’s signature black-and-white houndstooth on a wool bustier worn with pants. Statement making coats, one in red with a dramatic bow at the neck. Black leather as soft and supple as silk, used for a cocktail dress with a tulle bustle (one of many looks no doubt destined for the red carpet). Asymmetrical slip dresses with contrasting hip swags, or delicate Warhol sketch embroideries. Cool-looking negative heels.”

“The classic Bar suit,” noted us vogue, “was made this season in wool that mimicked denim, or worn with wide-leg Oxford bags; a short, full-skirted satin evening dress from 1949 with a bustle back like scudding clouds was reimagined in malleably fine black leather, and a strapless ballet-length dress was embroidered in black leather blossoms on dark net—Dior’s 1949 version was in conventionally pretty pastel silks. A dashing scarlet wool coat with a highwayman’s collar was a more literal homage, but Dior’s love of dramatic, asymmetric draperies was taken in a contemporary direction with hemlines sliced on the diagonal.”

and according to style, “(h)e liked the fact that Warhol is someone everyone thinks they know, but here was a finer, more sensitive take on him. Warhol’s spidery shoe drawings were embroidered or—better yet—embossed on bags; his portraits of women were details on a peplum top or a bustier dress. And Simons used graphic Warholian elements on the pieces he called “memory dresses,” gorgeous silk shifts that he compared to scrapbooks because they were studded with embroidered fragments that induced a fugue state of reverie (for Warhol fans, at least).”

meanwhile, the washington post reported that “(t)his season was the supplest fusion so far of his minimalism and the house’s ultra-femininity and curves. Fall-winter saw a parade of ‘memory dresses,’ some 48 looks that delved into the iconic houndstooth, peplums, and the original ‘40s designs of Monsieur Dior himself. They hit the catwalk reimagined, sometimes asymmetrically, alongside enormous mirror ball decor. Like thought bubbles, the silver spheres set the tone for the musing, which included an embroidered tulle bustier A-line dress — an archive piece called ‘Miss Dior 1949’ — reworked in hip embroidered black leather. Elsewhere, blown-up houndstooth had a surreal quality, in vertical slices down column silhouettes.”

and wwd shrieked that the show “an arty appeal, which was key. Simons based the collection on similarities he identified between Christian Dior and himself, specifically their mutual interest in art and their retro inclinations, which Simons called ‘a natural falling in love’ with a past era. ‘In [Dior’s] case, it was the Belle Epoque and in my case, midcentury,’ he said backstage before the show, sitting in one of the navy velvet Jean Royère wing chairs that outfitted his elegant makeshift receiving room. ‘It’s not specifically about the era; it’s about the process of allowing for yourself the freedom to go back to the period.’ This led to the notion of memories and approaching a collection as one might a scrapbook.”

“it was abundantly clear what Mr. Simons was up to with this show, even if it at times the pieces seemed to hover as an impression,” declared the nyt‘s cathy horyn. “He was trying to recreate the realities of having strong sensitivities — in the crashing of a black skirt through the opening of an elegant red coat, in the amount of asymmetry and in the varied silhouettes. A recording by Laurie Anderson of a visit to a West Village vet to see why her dog was so fat played for much of the show. That neurotic patter, against the self-reflecting clouds of Mylar, said it all. That Mr. Simons is able to pierce the strange membrane of time and memory, and make clothes of exceptional beauty and calm for today, is why he has the fashion industry’s attention. In a very real way, these clothes also appeal to many types of women.”

meanwhile, fashion week daily informed us that “a white mini dress overlaid with sheer chiffon was printed with big drawings of heels and a 1930s style flowing sleeveless dress avec tiered vents in the front, adorned with a circle of birds along with a face and a rouge glove….Elsewhere, prints took shape in thickly textured herringbone motifs, silhouetted as everything from a strapless pencil dress overlaid with bubblegum pink crochet to an origami-esque overlay scrolling down one shoulder. Florals came out to frolic for a moment, in the form of a graphic mini dress, cobalt on top, flared pink skirt cut longer (read: knee-grazing) in the back. But the stunners were in the classics, like a white ruffled silk dress, one-sleeved and with a black skirt hitched up for some subtle legginess.”

and the telegraph rejoined that “for the (not so) average woman, the most wearable proposition are probably the new wider Dior trousers, (or even more likely, the classic cigarette trousers) and their matching Bar Jackets which Simons is rapidly making his. Loose flapper-esque silk dresses, embroidered with Surrealist motifs and Warhol’s shoe illustrations from the mid-Fifties when the artist worked in advertising, added to the impression that this is a designer set on making clothes that are worn as much as they are admired.”

“There came the same bustier shapes and styles that he has very much made his own – on dresses in black and white and smothered in blooms or a new working of Dior’s houndstooth print,” described uk vogue. “There were the Bar jackets and the full skirts – this time never reaching the ground and kept youthful at knee lengths. And there was that same muted and controlled colour palette – blush, grey, black and white – with only a burst of scarlet here and there to make its point. Asymmetrical capes sat on shoulders but worked to form the top half of a look, while Oxford bags made for the trouser style of choice, worn with elegant Dior jackets, and there were coats of Red Riding Hood proportions, lapels unfolding, too.”

and grazia opined that “Shift dresses in black, navy and ivory were so elegant and perfectly proportioned they seemed to float around the body. Tailoring, though structured – the Bar jacket again – was effortless but never banal: in black denim and worn with loose-fitting trousers it looked modern and fresh…References to the Dior heritage were present and correct once again, particularly the house’s love affair with houndstooth check. It cropped up on the bustier of a cocktail dress or shrouded in pretty rose pink crochet knit. The label’s time-honoured signatures were looked at more obliquely this time around, however, further proof, if ever any was needed, that Simons is finding his own beautiful way.”

finally, though, it was the iht‘s suzy menkes that impressed me as always, refusing to go along with the others in her elegant skepticism: “But for all the individual pieces that made a smart or dreamy statement — the dresses with painted early Warhol decoration, for example — Mr. Simons seemed to have forgotten the purpose of a show: to unveil a comprehensible wardrobe for today….The daytime outfits — give or take a fine coat or a complex draped dress — just did not seem to encompass a modern women’s world of work. And for all its fine and delicate pieces, the emotion came from the event, rather than the clothes. Mr. Simons said backstage that he was thinking of ‘a more psychological approach’ to the world of Christian Dior. Maybe he needs to prick the air balloons and come closer to earth.” ha. but then, this is why she’s one of the few remaining fashion journalists i really respect.

(view the full fashion show video here)

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