Raf revs up in Monte Carlo with a collection that's just as Simons as Dior
Monaco is riddled with clichés as the playground of the rich. Those clichés mostly ring true when you’re sauntering around town gawping at gleaming Porsches and too-tanned ladies dripping in diamonds. It’s precisely these clichés, which attracted Raf Simons to show Christian Dior’s first cruise fashion show in three years, in Monte Carlo over the weekend. Resort wear, as a genre of clothing first gained momentum in rich microcosms like Monaco, but has grown beyond that to become a significant part of the fashion business.
Simons became fascinated with the very word 'cruise' and how he could subvert its associations to create a collection that was in keeping with the direction of ready to wear and would jolt our perceptions. Even the weather was conspiring to ensure we wouldn’t be coming away with inter-season filler fodder. An uncharacteristic constant downpour and moody Mediterranean sea formed the Hiroshi Sugimoto-esque backdrop as we sat inside a specially built box venue nestled into the Promenade Casiraghi. “I really started thinking about the cliches of cruise – the holiday, the day and the night,” explained Simons after the show. “But obviously we wanted to push it. This part of the industry has become so important but we wanted to give it a twist.”
What twists there were. We rose awkwardly for Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco as she arrived, but wondered what she would make of this dynamic revved-up show that Simons delivered. His Dior women were swift, energetic and fast – not lounging around on a sundeck with lethargy.
No longer feeling like he had to trot out Dior tropes so faithfully, we essentially got a collection that was more “Raf” than we’d seen before. The Dior rose flashed up on sheer dresses along with graphic metallic bands. The previously structured Bar jacket had softened up into a relaxed fit. Lace, a material, which Simons wouldn’t have touched beforehand was sprayed, glazed and bonded into unrecognisable textures, throwing mad shapes over the metallic bathing ensembles underneath. A particularly evocative silhouette was a lace crop top sprayed with jagged shapes with a flowing pair of asymmetric palazzo trousers, with volume concentrated into one leg. Dresses were zippered and made for free-flowing movement, as though Simons himself was letting loose. Depeche Mode’s Behind the Wheel – Monaco is a racetrack, as much as anything else – mixed with Madonna’s intonation on Erotica was the perfect summation of Simons’ intentions for fast-paced dynamism and latent sensuality coming together to propel Dior forward. The equally modern princess was clearly chuffed. Post-show she swiftly changed into one of those free-flowing colour-blocked dresses to join Simons at the aftershow cocktail at the Musée Océanographique. Surreal doesn’t quite cut it as Simons begins to seduce the world over (royal or not) with his newly-freed vision FOR Dior.
View the gallery for the Dazed fashion team's edit of the collection; fashion director Robbie Spencer, fashion editors Elizabeth Fraser-Bell and Emma Wyman and fashion features editor Dean Mayo Davies