In the mix of what was an epic Dior show, in size at least, held in the courtyard of the Louvre at god-knows-what-expense, Raf Simons sent out a pink coat – ‘his’ pink coat, in the palest blush, buttonless, drop-shouldered and long. It was more than a wink, more than a reminder of the moment he became one of the greatest womenswear designers of his generation. That pink coat sparked a zillion copies. Indeed, designers are still copying it – his Jil Sander pink coat.
These days, it’s harder to spot a Dior copy. Raf’s signature for the house is strong and unmistakable, but you don’t see other designers emulating it, like you do with Louis Vuitton or Saint Laurent. Perhaps that’s because Dior is such a modernist statement (whereas Vuitton and Saint Laurent look to the past in order to create the new, and are therefore more familiar, easier to knock off). It’s certainly not because Simons isn’t doing a great job at the mighty Dior. You only have to look at the Dior ladies, trotting in late to get their seats, in all their bold-coloured Dior finery, to know that plenty of well-heeled women are buying and wearing it. But it does make you wonder about the hierarchy of influence in today’s industry and how his vision at Jil Sander pioneered a look that sat neatly with its founder’s. At Dior, traditionally a more feminine-with-bows-on house, Simons goes his own way - futurism and classicism collide - his mission is to invent a new ‘species’ of fashion, and that's to be respected.
This season, he wanted to send out a ‘sensory overload’ with his woman who had become ‘animalistic, sexual, wearing a new kind of camouflage’. His was the urban jungle, mind. So alongside abstract animal prints rendered in intarsia-wool coats, we saw stretchy fabric reminiscent of that used to pack oranges, only these had a metallic sheen and were cut into tube dresses and skirts. There were plenty of animal pelts, too (Canadian fox, no doubt destined to be worn by the Dior ladies of the wealthy 16th arrondisement), driving home his idea of ‘animals’ – and ‘savagery’, depending on your point of view. Masculine tailoring, with oversized blazers and coats in raw, felted wool and dense tweeds collided with slashed harness dresses, beneath them second-skin jacquard body suits worn with long, vinyl boots – classicism and creativity combined.
There were so many ideas – new hybrids and clashing opposites – together with the mammoth size of the collection, which made for an epic show with plenty for the Dior faithfuls to wear. And perhaps being uncopyable is the highest form of fashion flattery.