Christian Dior Couture Fall Winter 2013 Paris

Well its official, Raf Simons has fully absorbed the heritage of the Christian Dior house into his envelope pushing aesthetic. This fall/winter 2014 collection was uniquely his, and if there were hints of references to past classic Dior silhouettes, they were just top notes to the complex and heady fashion elixir that Simons is offering the house’s haute couture clientele.

These are women who, now more than ever, are world travelers that are both social media savvy and informed luxury consumers. In fact, the nature of haute couture, with its collections shown just before the season in which the garments are to be worn, is the form of dress that most closely fills the needs of women looking for the best the luxury world has to offer with the immediacy they now crave.

 The new global consumer was on Simons’s mind when he started to imagine this collection. “I began by looking at women from different continents and cultures, who wear couture, their personal style,” read the quote from designer in the show program notes.

With the vision of his far flung customers leading him, Simons decided to break the collection up into four clear groupings, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. In doing so it allowed him a bit more room to experiment with both fabric treatments and aesthetic approaches. This made for a collection that went from dresses created by using a traditional Japanese technique called Shibori that gave the garments a spiky texture reminiscent of the Southeast Asian Durian fruit all the way to a show stopping, sporty black tank gown covered in colorful floral embroidered “badges”.  A dress that looked just right for Hollywood starlet Jennifer Lawrence, who was sitting front and center at the show.

Simons also heightened the immediacy aspect of this collection by coming up with the ingenious idea of having the collection shot backstage by four of the top fashion photographers working today, just before the show. Simons tapped Terry Richardson, Paolo Roversi, Patrick Demarchelier and Willy Vanderpierre to each take on one of the four regions and had they shot the collection in a quartet of pop-up studios set up behind the scenes at the show.

The effect being that as the models wore say a Maasai warrior inspired graphic pink and black knit dress, or a sleeveless pleated print black and white dress that looked like it had been crafted from the skin of an exotic animal from the “Africa” section of the show walked the runway, a classic Terry Richardson pose of those same models giving a thumbs up would appear on the wall high video screen backdrop.  The timing was seamless. And it added another layer of depth and dynamism to a Dior show already brimming with bright ideas.

- Jessica Michault

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