Taken individually, each part of today’s Dior show—Raf Simons’ second RTW collection for the house—was brilliant: the bits of early and still painterly Andy Warhol appliquéd to skirts and bodices (in collaboration with the Andy Warhol Foundation); the generous helping of archival Dior; and the mind-warping stage design consisting of giant mirrored oblong shapes like those of Jeff Koons balloon dog sculpture.

Taken together, however, and despite great amity tendered by just about everyone, these various parts added up to their sum exactly—not more, unfortunately. No intoxicating elixir was alchemically stirred into existence, no transcendental Zeitgeist was conjured from the ether. One can admire the experiments in houndstooth and crochet, the play with proportion and asymmetry, the shoes resembling Eames chairs—but only in the way a mid-century Rothko hangs on a museum wall. Simons’ women seem wrapped in canvasses; they are not living, breathing canvasses.

There were many great pieces, of course, and combinations thereof. And it’s refreshing that Simons isn’t consumed with outerwear, like so many designers this season. The pairings of take-me bustiers with stand-back trousers were particularly alluring with their mixed messages. There is life in them. But there exists an impenetrable, abstract sadness in Simons’ offerings for Dior that prevents complete submission. Then again, Monsieur Dior and Andy Warhol were misunderstood, too.

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