For a number of years now I only go to one Haute Couture show per season (they show the Haute Couture clothes twice a year, in January for the following summer, and in July for the following winter). After years and years of going to many shows, now that most of the big couture houses have closed, I only go to Chanel. Dior used to be one of my favorites, but although I immensely admire John Galliano’s talent, I’ve never been a big fan of his clothes, and as he’s been the designer for Dior for many years, I stopped going to their shows. Due to a series of unfortunate events, a year or two ago, Mr. Galliano is no longer designing for Dior, and they’ve been without a designer ever since, and have been managing with their design studio, but no “Creator” at their helm. Various names have been bandied about for the last year, about who would take over designing for this very important house. Marc Jacobs, was mentioned, a number of others, Ricardo Tisci (at Givenchy) and even the young designer Alexander Wang from New York, who has a very successful line of his own (and is opening a flagship store in Peking). But designing for Dior is a huge undertaking, with a huge ready to wear collection to produce several times a year, and Haute Couture collections twice a year. (Haute Couture are the clothes that are entirely hand made, and made to order, for a few rarified clients. They are absolutely exquisite, fabricated in extraordinary fabrics, and are priced accordingly. Clients have as many as three fittings for a garment, and the seamstresses and sewing team who make them all by hand, have twelve years of apprenticeship to get through before they are fully qualified to work on the clothes. Haute Couture clothes are really an art form, and there are very few Haute Couture clients left in the world. At last, two months ago, this spring, a match was made between the house of Dior and their new designer, a man named Raf Simons, who was the designer for Jil Sander. And Mr. Simons, who is a very, very talented designer, given to simple, clean cut designs and sometimes uses great colors, has undertaken a very interesting task. Until the Galiano days, clothes by the house of Dior had a very distinctive look, and a long history in the world of fashion. And it’s no small feat to stay within the inspiration of Dior’s earlier designs, and yet add a new twist to it to bring them into the present. Karl Lagerfeld has done that at Chanel, respecting the style of Coco Chanel, yet adding his own immense talent to it. Raf Simons is now facing very much the same thing at Dior, a house which has a definite flavor and look, yet a need for a new designer to infuse new life into the clothes they produce and give them a modern touch. Everyone in the fashion world has been anxious to see what Raf Simons would do, starting with his first Haute Couture collection at Dior, which I saw today.
The show was held at a beautiful, elegant old building on the Avenue d’Iena in the sixteenth arrondissement in Paris, and a friend of mine who lives nearby said he had been watching virtually truckloads of flowers being delivered for two days. And as soon as we entered the rooms where the show was to be held we could see why. The ceilings of each room (5 of them in all) were well over twenty feet tall, there were moldings, and exquisite ceilings, a lovely marble staircase leading from the ground floor to the rooms on the first floor (and HUNDREDS of press photographers, clamoring as people walked in, celebrities and fashionistas alike). And in each of the rooms where the show was to be held, fresh flowers literally covered the walls (like wallpaper) from floor to ceiling, and each room in a different color. There was a room of bright blue, almost royal blue flowers, one of white flowers, one of pink, one of yellow, and one of mixed colors. It was incredible, and none of us had ever seen anything like it. And the clothes were just as beautiful as the flowers. Mr. Simons didn’t let his new house down. He did exactly what was expected of him, as the new designer of Dior, only better than anyone expected. He respected the old flavor and feeling and style of Dior, while adding fresh new touches, a fresh look and his own style. The clothes were exquisite; most of them were evening wear, lots of strapless gowns, and tops over pants, exquisite fabrics, beautiful combinations, vibrant colors (one dress which reminded me of a peacock in navys, and deep royal blues, another pastel dress made of delicate feathers. The looks were elegant and sleek, and sophisticated beyond words. He did a spectacular job on his first collection of 55 exquisite pieces for Dior. It was also touching to see that a number of very famous designers quietly came to the show, to support Mr. Simons. Ricardo Tisci, the designer for Givenchy was there, Azzedine Alaia, and Alber Elbaz of Lanvin (another important old house). I sat across from the spectacularly beautiful British model Stella Tennant, who watched the show intently (and I couldn’t help watching her since she is so beautiful and striking). Everyone was impressed with what he did, how quickly he had done it, and how outrageously beautiful it was. All eminently wearable clothes, that were incredibly elegant, and worthy of the name of Dior. For anyone who loves fashion, it was a joy to see a show of that quality, in such a beautiful setting, surrounded by the extraordinary floral decor. The show was a major hit, and deserves to be. Bravo for Raf Simons, and best of luck for his exciting new adventure designing for the greatly respected house of Christian Dior. It was a hit!!! And a treat just being there!!!