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Dior Couture AW13

Raf Simons sends a jolt through the haute couture status quo for Dior's couture showing in Paris

TextSusie LauPhotographyLea Colombo

If two seasons ago when Raf Simons debuted his couture collection for Christian Dior he was careful not to step on the toes of those that valued the sanctity of haute couture by paying beautiful homage to Monsieur Dior, then a year on, it seems like Simons is ready to move on. This was a jolt to the haute couture status quo that sought to evolve its existence into something modern and, more importantly, relevant. Simons spoke of a global vision of couture and about how people actually wore couture from all around the world. The construct was essentially a high fashion version of the theme park ride "It’s A Small World", as the show was split into four distinct 'realms': Europe's La Parisienne, sporty chic from the Americas, the balance and purity of Asia and the Masai tribe’s colourful freedom from Africa. Each continent was paired with a photographers' vision – Patrick Demarchelier, Willy Vanderperre, Paolo Roversi and Terry Richardson, respectively – commissioned to interpret each continent. The images were projected on to an ever-shifting backdrop in the box of a venue built at Place Vauban and they segued into each in fluid motion. Simons may have carved up the collection into all four corners of the world, but the final intention was that we'd all have the liberty to pick and choose what took our fancy, regardless of nationality. 

When all is said and done about these 'realms', it came down to the solid foundations of the clothes, which naturally avoided any flag-waving clichés reflecting their continents and instead gave the Dior ateliers license to push fabrics and textures into new realms of their own – spiky Japanese shibori in Cyberdog green and red, transparent yarn worked into Masai-inspired striped knits, a slicked up La Parisienne in coated houndstooth, sunset-hued light refracting fringing, an elegant column of pink satin injected with unexpected panels of silk strands. You could go on and on analyzing the textural and cultural mash-ups in every ensemble but it might be better just to allow yourself to be fully immersed in this thorough and intriguing process of Simons breaking free from his minimalist tag. Season by season at Dior, he’s shedding it with verve and conviction while staying true to his roots. Better yet, freedom and choice were the key words here and while the "There’s something for everyone" approach could have been a dangerous tactic to play, under Simons' direction it was exciting to see unfold.

The final hit of global appeal? The thing that got people going on Instagram/Twitter comments wasn't in fact the clothes but instead it was Simons' choice to use tracks from Kanye West's new Yeezus album as the soundtrack. Something else then that spoke to the world.