Raf Simons’s Christian Dior Haute Couture Spring 2015 Fashion Show: A genuinely new look

In its overt sixties nostalgia, it had a firmer footing in the world envisaged by Yves Saint Laurent

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Indy Lifestyle Online

As the first models strode out at Raf Simons’s spring 2015 Christian Dior haute couture show, glistening in translucent plastic opera coats and embroidered floral lace dresses, legs stem-like in slender latex boots like fetishy Allen Jones sculptures perambulating to life, you got the feeling you were in for something new.

Well, something old and something new: Simons looking to the past to invent the future anew. The new here, however, was more new than usual. At least, it wasn’t New Look - the 1947 collection that established Dior’s place in the fashion history books, and has been regurgitated a thousand times since.

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Christian Dior Haute Couture Spring Summer 2015

Rather than the New Look, then, Simons gave us a genuinely new look. At least, a new look for Dior. Gone were the padded peplum jackets known as Bar, the cinched waists, and by and large the expansive skirts.

In their place were slick shifts, surfaces tremblante with flowers in sequin embroidery and guipure lace, plenty of plastic, psychedelic knitted jumpsuits and those high-rise kinky boots giving a graphic, block-colour base to every look.

In its overt sixties nostalgia, it had a firmer footing in the world envisaged by Yves Saint Laurent, the first successor to Monsieur Dior, appointed by the man himself to helm the house following his death in 1957. By 1960, Yves unveiled his controversial “Beat” collection, whose brief skirts, turtlenecks and controversial crocodile-skin “blousons noir” prefaced the sixties Youthquake.

That collection - lambasted by the press - got him fired from Dior. Simons deserves no such fate. These are new times, and these were fresh, vibrant, skilfully executed clothes. They were appealing.

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Raf Simons' collection had a graphic, block-colour base to every look (AFP/Getty)

How much does appeal matter? It’s an odd question to ask, but haute couture is entirely made-to-measure for a tiny worldwide clientele. Those client numbers fluctuate between a few hundred and a couple of thousand, who have the limitless reserves of money and time to have clothes constructed by hand on their bodies.

Far from feeling like clothes to state a swaddled elite, Simons’s Dior was easy to imagine striding straight out of the shag-carpeted scaffolding construct in Paris’ Musée Rodin and onto the Rue Varenne. Which was Simons’s point.

“I really wanted to express something that felt relevant for today,” he mused. And, from a form of fashion which can frequently feel like a cross between a museum exhibition to fashion’s grand past and a trade show demonstrating the technical possibilities of the specialist Parisian ateliers (who continue to supply the haute couture with embroidery, pleating, hand-made lace and the like in the fashion of several hundred years hence), hankering after dressing real-life women on real streets feels startling.

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Christian Dior Haute Couture Spring Summer 2015

Back when Saint Laurent scandalised Paris with his deluxe black leather jackets, that was the point of the couture. Today, it’s about publicity - more likely to dress Hollywood stars than even the hyper-moneyed elite.

However, at Dior the couture is vaunted as the house’s essence absolue: astronomically expensive, but undiluted and pure. For the eau de toilette? Watch for the ready-to-wear, and the next step in Simons’s new look beyond the New Look. Hopefully, we’ll all be able to buy into it.

 

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