Sep 30, 2012

Dior Spring Summer 2013 review (Part II)

Paris is reviving 'profusely' and it has been that way for the past few seasons now. The appointment of Olivier Theyskens at Theory, the holy reincarnation of brands: Schiaparelli, Vionnet (although it’s based in Italy now) and luxury baggage maker, Moynat. The revival peaked a new high when recently Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane were brought in to take over the helms of what now are the two most prestigious couture house in Paris: Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent; respectively.

The uber handsome, Mr. Raf Simons and the stunning beauty, Ms. Leelee Sobieski backstage after the show.
(Raf is wearing a 1996 Helmut Lang denim jacket and Gaia in one of his 1st Dior Haute Couture Fall 2012 look)
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Overall receptions are mostly positive and the anticipation is high this season for these two designers to belt out their first ever prêt-à-porter collection for these workshops. Perhaps in an effort to ‘over-creating’ a hype, some press pulled a theatrical rivalry drama between these two designers with some even referred this as the ‘Clash Of The Titans’ (WWD) which I found to be rather over-dramatic.

But then again, how often do you get two ‘neighboring’ ateliers (both located in the same 8th arrondissement in Paris, few blocks away from each other) having major creative replacement occurring at the same time? What's more interesting, both Raf (Belgium-born; 12th January 1968) and Hedi (Paris-born; 5th July 1968) are 44 years old this year and achieved first major success in menswear with Raf Simons through his own eponymous brand and Hedi Slimane as the very first designer at the helm of Dior Homme.

Receptions and reviews were mixed in regards to Raf Simons RTW debut at Dior yesterday. Those unhappy ones expected Raf to go beyond the unfathomed of even maybe omitting all the essence and DNA of Dior to come up with a collection to be seen as fresh and new (don’t we all have Mugler for this experiment?). They regarded the collection as ‘uptight’ and affixed to the heritage lacking revolutionary looks.

I, for one, find the collection to be very interesting and enjoyed the whole 15 minutes of the show video look after look (the Euro-trash techno music helps too!). His prêt-à-porter debut didn’t stray too far away from what he had done for his maiden haute couture show for Dior back in July. An array of ‘bar jacket’ looks raised the curtain of the show (paired with an ultra-sexy cigarette pants and silk necktie). In some looks, the historic Bar Jacket received a pleating treatment at the side and worn with wool miniskirts (1950s Dior!) and later on, morphed as a dress with metallic pleat details.

Myriad of colors then enter the runway in the form of beautifully-draped duchesse satin ball gown dresses offered in one-shoulder or bustier option worn with black wool short. ‘Hybrid’ (for lack of better word) versions of bar jackets worn as dresses with duchesse satin skirts in electric colors were then introduced. More colors then make glorious entrances with diagonal-striped organza layered with black tulle and some metallic contrasted with layers upon layers of pastels; perhaps Raf’s reinterpretations of the A-line dress which somewhat playful in material & color options (a phase of reminiscing Marc Bohan’s days at Dior in 1960s?).

Asymmetrical looks with contrasting hidden colors in the drapes elevated the collection even further. Slightly repetitive, the pieces emerged in the form of H-line dresses or bustier with black wool shorts.

Personally, I find the next few looks as my most favorite of them all (I tweeted and regard them models as milk ladies, in Dior mind you!) Voluminous ‘New Look’ skirts length to ankle with floral prints all over the iridescent duchesse satin got me giggled with excitement. These ‘busy’ opera skirts aptly paired with a quiet down black silk/ cashmere knitted top perhaps a perfect anecdote of Raf Simons minimalism ubiety in the heritage-rich house of Christian Dior.

It’s not wrong to say that the whole collection is very contemporary what with all the spot-on SS13 trends in the forms of tangerine color, bold floral prints and stripes. Reference to Dior half-a-century old archive is heavily evident with the showing of peplumed bar jackets, silk dresses with asymmetrical trains, layers upon layers of organza used, A-line satin dresses and tulle tunics overlays on some evening dresses.

Raf Simons quietly reworked the Lady Dior bag (introduced in 1995 by John Galliano) dismissing the Cannage (rattan motif) and opted for a more serene plain option. The metal hardware attached to the bag (for each of the letter D-I-O-R) is now made in plastic (or Perspex, I don’t know) -  an adjustment which I find most fitting in austerely Euro economic times (yea right).

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Perhaps the only part that I wish to forget that afternoon was how painful it looked to be walking in those shoes. Some models even tripped upon making an entrance and found it hard to mitigate with the evil gravity but thankfully, none actually fell. Albeit their modern looking some with metallic cross-down straps in contrast with softer pastel hues, the absence of platform on these sling-backs makes it steeper to tilt walk in. Simply put, if you are never trained for 'Swan Lake' then you might as well forgo those shoes!

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Reviews might have been mixed although wholly positive but the most important signal to determine a good collection is always during those buying appointments following the show. Nevertheless, I find the collection to be extremely desirable. Mr. Simons in a very controlled manner managed to (I think) turned Dior from a ready-to-wear collection that ‘people would only dream to wear and imagined would look good on them’ into a collection that will actually be worn and compensatingly will actually look convincingly beautiful on the wearer.

POST-SCRIPTUM: 'Saint Laurent Paris' first show in Paris is on October 1st, Monday. No news on live-stream on the internet so far. Bummer!

Image credit for all photos in this post is to (unless stated otherwise). Thank you!

Written by Arman

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