Dispatches from Paris: Dior

Immaculately chic and ultra-feminine

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As the audience poured out of the man-made mountain of delphiniums, erected in the Louvre courtyard for a single show lasting no more than 15 minutes, then spilt onto the Rue de Rivoli causing gridlock and general pandemonium, you could see Raf Simons’ Dior everywhere. Not the collection he had just served up on the catwalk, but past collections. Whether those wearing it had actually bought it or had been sent it to wear is another matter. That it was en masse, and displayed so many individual style statements on ‘real’ women, made a valid point. As did the frenzy of photographers clogging the road all the way down to Le Palais Royale, where an impromptu street-style shoot outside a photogenic café had drawn a massive crowd of tourists, also taking pictures on their phones of these impressively glamorous Dior women in their thigh-high, skintight, shiny black boots with yellow Perspex heels.

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The Dior look is bold. It’s unmistakable. It’s immaculately chic and ultra-feminine, with accessories that shout ‘HAUTE FASHION’ from the highest rooftops. If anything, Artistic Director, Raf Simons’ SS16 collection drilled deeper into the codes of the house, the pieces that matter, and by doing so resolved the core identity of this major Parisian brand: great tailoring versus delicate separates.

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The delicacy was provided in fine cotton cropped tops and shorts with scalloped edges, inspired by Victorian lingerie (underwear as outerwear being one of the biggest trends this season). The tailoring took on the form of strict body-contouring jackets, many inspired, of course, by the house archives or the military. Sounds simple. It wasn’t. Apparently straightforward jackets, on closer inspection, were bestowed with a microscopically pleated hem. And there was nothing ordinary about that cotton, cut in arced panels of sheer and opaque with couture precision. All of it in black or white.

 
Within these focused parameters, he issued the fun stuff: chunky cropped-to-the-ribs jumpers in hot pink, white, navy, electric blue; the most luxurious ivory parka embroidered with dainty flowers, inlaid with sparkle and multiple miniature pleats; and stripes everywhere on coats – pin-fine on gauzy white, bold verticals in navy and red, horizontals in coffee and cream, and twisting diagonally on satin embedded with lace. But it was the tailoring – so many impeccable trouser suits and jackets – that gave the collection its direct and disciplined message.

 
‘I wanted to find a new kind of precision, purity and ease,’ said Simons. And he achieved it. Black or white, strong or delicate, masculine or feminine, Dior’s yin and yang was in perfect harmony. All of it, no doubt, to be seen posing on the Rue de Rivoli next March.

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