Blooming Haute Couture! The Christian Dior show in Paris today was one of the most anticipated presentations in recent years. It was the debut of Raf Simons as creative director, following the scandal of John Galliano last year.
The Belgian designer cocooned his guests (which included Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Lawrence, Sharon Stone) in thousands upon thousands of fresh flowers. The show was spread out over five rooms, each room a different color. The blooms were said to be a tribute to Mr. Dior’s love of flowers in his day.
Any designer hired to take the helm of an iconic brand, then, on top of that, follow a very charismatic creative (if troubled) genius is not in an enviable position. You have to remember to stay “on-brand” and be consistent to the label and image. You also want to make your statement and show that you are not in the shadow of your predecessor or the runner-up…
Mr. Simons handled his first collection by paying homage to some of Dior’s signature silhouettes from the 1950’s. Flared skirts with nipped in waists were a nod to the famous “New Look”, while embroidered, mini dress/tops were worn over slim black trousers, a trend taken from today’s city streets.
While I found the collection very pretty and wearable, I also found it safe. The silhouettes were universally flattering, bright solid colors could not offend anyone. The embroidered floral patterns were elegant and feminine enough to appease the most conservative of customers. There were many looks of demure, basic black.
As a designer, one yearns for the chance to show the world your vision. While being the creative director of Dior is a dream job, one wonders if Simon’s wings were clipped just from the pressure. The world was waiting with baited breath no matter what came down the runway. He could have showed any fashion statement he wanted.
Haute Couture is not about restraint. The House of Dior did not become the iconic fashion brand it has been by avoiding risks. Couture is about excess and not worrying about the price tag. Am I asking too much when I want to see a show that reflects that?