GIF: Christian Dior s/s 2015, Imaxtree
Raf Simons said he’d posed himself the question: ‘What is modern?’ Aside from this being the question that every designer should be asking him or herself (that is surely their job?), you could see his point.
He’d been looking at his last Haute Couture collection and decided he wanted to revisit the idea of finding ‘something extremely modern through something very historical’. So he set about extrapolating ‘modern’ out of couture with often-masterful results.
This wasn't as straightforward as it sounds – a simple dilution of his couture collection in more accessible fabrics and cleaner lines; it was a dynamically modern take on historical costume. A plain white trouser suit opened, but soon we were into the modernisation of 18th-century pannier skirts that came buttoned to black body-con vests and high-necked Edwardian smocks cut from surgical white cotton or powder pink and dappled in dainty lawn flowers – modernity and history combined when executed in diagonal fastenings with minuscule rouleau-looped buttons. The courtier’s coat came in sharp black, drizzled with jet beads or embroidered with flowers. And the finale highwayman’s coats – one in glossy burgundy silk, another in gold – did exactly what it said on the tin: more modern, more dynamic, more real; ‘I wanted [the idea of couture] to be made available to a wider audience.’
But there was more. Because Raf Simons doesn’t ever deal in just one idea: his collections are always a panoply of inspiration, and all that stuff in the ether too. So in the mix, there were the season’s hot topic uniforms: the pilot flight suit (in pretty pink florals), the school girl (in sharp little skirts and blazers) and skaters in white cotton piqué. The entire effect, with the thrashing soundtrack and the space-age set, was geared to modern, all of it uncompromisingly youthful. And shown on such very young models (one, bless her, seemed to be stricken with pain as she tried to master the towering heels) it made you wonder what the loyal, moneyed Dior customer might make of it all – no matter how stunning it all was.
Still, nobody can serve up (ultra-modern) fashion history like Raf Simons. He tapped the current mood for all things artisanal, by looking back as well as forward.