A model wears a creation as part of Dior's Spring/Summer 2015 ready-to-wear fashion collection / AP

 

The notion of using the past to invent the future is an essential component of the contemporary fashion lexicon. It’s there in the endless revivals, sure – for spring/summer 2015, the Seventies ride high for about the seventieth time – but more pointedly in the number of designers working under other names.

Case in point: Raf Simons, head of Dior, whose lineage is among the most awe-inspiring of all the grand maisons of Paris. His role there is complex. On the one hand, he has to respect the house’s established style and history, whose elements are set not in stone but in the multiple, multimillion-selling lines of Dior cosmetics and perfume. On the other, Simons has to do what he feels is right. He has to reflect his times. He has to push forwards.

Actually, he doesn’t. Plenty of designers are content to follow rather than to lead. But Raf Simons is an innovator and an instigator. His Dior collections are an artful dance between past and future – none more so than this. Influenced by his approach to July’s haute couture collection, Simons stated he was “remixing” history, telescoping and juxtaposing different fashion sources to create arresting affects.

 

The swagger of 18th-century sleeves was transposed to suit-jackets or shirt dresses; fragments of baroque, silk-cuffed trousers; frock coats worn with bermuda shorts. The contrasts were arresting – a plundering lurch through history. There was plenty of Dior – those rococo shapes, the floral prints, the delicacy of the embroideries – but as with those costume references, Simons rearranged the old to take us somewhere new.

His words? “More dynamic. More modern. More real.” All achieved.

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