Raf Simons had several daunting tasks in the run-up to his hotly anticipated pret-a-porter debut for Dior. Fundamentally, he had to find a way of combining the house’s archives with his own pared-down style and appetite for bracing pops of color. On top of that, he’s had to consider, or deliberately eliminate, references to John Galliano’s long tenure, while not alienating the house’s loyal clientele. He’s also had to acknowledge his Dior couture collection in June, and perhaps also his final collection at Jil Sander. Then there is the fact that to his most faithful fans, he is an avant-garde men’s designer with a penchant for gritty graphics.

The result was a balanced and measured spring collection, a fusion of familiar elements punctuated by moments of new brilliance. If Simons had been feeling pulled in a million directions, it rarely showed in the clothes.

The first to emerge were lean tuxedo suits, followed by flouncy mini-dresses and extra-short shorts. A series of knotted short dresses in iridescent pastels came next, an evocative mix of rave culture and prom night. Paillette appliques resembling Rorschach tests appeared here and there, as did asymmetric pleating, color-blocking, wide horizontal stripes, and long tulle overlays that could’ve been taken straight from the Dior archives, culminating with flower-print ball gowns worn with tight black T-shirts.

The overall effect was one of forward-looking boldness without a wisp of disrespect or insensitivity—just the way Monsieur Dior would have wanted it, and just the way Dior execs surely hoped for.

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