Taking place the day after the AW13 menswear shows, it's fair to say there is a gear change ahead of SS13 couture. Regarded the absolute pinnacle of fashion, painstakingly handmade and custom-fitted pieces carry prices escalating from a small car for something simple to a house for a total showstopper.
Monsieur-grey carpet was laid across the snow covered Tuileries for Raf Simons' sophomore Dior couture collection as guests, including Natalia Vodianova, were escorted – and papped to infinity – into the specially constructed box where the show was taking place. Mirrored so it reflected the environment around it, that I'm-not-there discretion was not only a great illusion, but an act parallel to the way invitations arrive, unbranded or monikered. If you've got it, there is a time and a place to flaunt it – this is old school, an immaculate performance of manners.
Saying that, with A$AP Rocky in attendance wearing a total Shaun Samson look, the rapper having name-checked Simons on record, it's clear that Raf is keen to shape Dior in his intuitive way. Martin Wirtz created a perfect French garden, with models rising from underneath boxwood hedges, like butterflies emerging from a cocoon, to meander the set. Which made for a stirring experience set to Michel Gaubert's intense classical soundtrack.
"I wanted to do a very self-explanatory collection this season," says Simons. "I wanted it to literally be about the season; to be about the very idea of spring."
Beginning with gentle black and blues, the story, like winter loosening its grasp and welcoming spring, let the light in, as beaded, embellished florals sprouted on tulle, flou and tailleur uniting organically, with bonnets by Stephen Jones evoking buds waiting to blossom. Pat McGrath covered lips with dew-like scarlet crystal.
"There is a sense of the collection growing and changing from where we started with the couture last season," Simons continued. "Yet always with a sense of continuity and reality for the wearer."
These clothes have pockets to nest a mobile phone in or hook hands around casually. Thoughtfully Simons also offers the luxury people tend to take for granted, being able to sit down in his designs. Thanks! It's touches like that are crucial to Dior's haute evolution, with the tension of pragmatism enriching the story. Simons knows it, even if he is relishing his new role, a designer in love with fashion.