Following Alexander Wang’s outer-borough sojourn in February, Raf Simons presented his cruise 2015 collection for Dior at the Navy Yards in Brooklyn — in the very same venue. The transatlantic visit was intended to solicit some love, American-style; indeed, a Dior-branded water taxi, champagne-serving garçons, and perma-smiling celebrities supplied with Lady Dior bags made sure of it. The show’s theme of Franco-American unity, too, can be counted on to deliver a hit, in this case a marriage of American gusto and French chic (specifically, the Gallic fondness for silk scarves, or carrés).
If the assorted accoutrements hit their mark, the collection itself, sadly, did not. Which isn’t to say there wasn’t plenty to relish, particularly high-waisted slacks, asymmetrical skirts with a prominent front pocket, and sailor-inspired sleeveless ivory coats that were nothing short of a revelation. But the conscious coupling of French and American motifs came off as forced, fractured, and frisson-less, while the continued reliance on painterly allusions is beginning to strain, as is an insistence on florals and floral-stripe clashes. Mesh tops, among other sporty references, didn’t quite work as they didn’t feel natural to Simons, while several black dresses were downright dowdy.
Given his transformation of menswear, the notion of Simons losing his drive to innovate would be unthinkable. But from looking at his tenure at Dior so far, one gets the sense that in the Belgian visualist beats the heart of a fine artist, not a fashion designer.