The Dior saga has been perhaps the most divisive, discussed and dissected events in recent fashion memory and while Raf Simons’ debut this morning didn’t erase the last year or so of scandals and rumblings, it set the stage for a hopeful new era for the storied house.
How do you solve a problem like Galliano? The designer has been keeping low ever since his very public breakdown and ousting, yet his shadow looms large over Christian Dior. As creative director from 1996 up till last year, he did wild and wondrous things for the house — his fantastical creations unfailingly the highlight of haute couture season.
The powers-that-be handled Galliano’s exit well — and the brand even “surprisingly” managed to increase revenues — but creatively, Dior floundered. Interim couturier Bill Gaytten tried to recapture some of the magic for which Galliano was famous, only to come up short in his first couture collection. It was a hodgepodge of everything Galliano did right gone wrong. It was an understandable misstep, though — without a blockbuster talent like Galliano’s the house had no identity.
Enter Raf Simons. Simons is a designer with his own identity, with his own aesthetic, with his own ideas of couture and fashion. His penchant for minimalism worked brilliantly at Jil Sander till his abrupt exit a few months ago. With his appointment to Dior, however, Simons insisted that he was more than just a minimalist; that he would embrace Dior’s “original intention, its original heritage and meaning.” And that’s exactly what he did.
Playing off the cinched waist and full skirt of Dior’s legendary “New Look” from 1947, Simons delivered a modern, sleek, exquisitely-rendered collection. Gone were the elaborate, fanciful gowns that closed so many shows under Galliano’s impeccable eye. That was couture’s past and what Simons presented today was more in line with couture’s future.
For me, the presence of pockets in every slim black pant and every evening gown represented a functionality that was missing from Galliano’s era. This is couture for the modern woman — a new New Look for Christian Dior.