Pin It
Dior SS15
Natalie Westling (Elite) at Dior SS15Photography Lea Colombo

Dior SS15

Raf Simons distills a history of fashion into precise sculptured skirts and angular sleeves – questioning the notion of modernity

TextSusie LauPhotographyLea Colombo

Initial reaction:

An audience lusting for the 18th century pannier robes and frock coats from the last Dior couture show had their prayers answered. This was "Providence" – the extended remix that won't just be for the lucky rarified haute couture clientele. And that idea of looking backwards to go forward, eked out in haute couture ateliers in July, seems even more pertinent today. Despite Raf Simons saying in his press notes that by looking to the "far past", he was going away from his original inspiration when he first signed up for Dior, that quest for fresh modernity was more than achieved here by the mere fact that the far away past isn't referenced often in fashion. Not in the way Simons committed to it anyway, with his investigation into the structured pannier skirts – voluminous and light in delicate florals, French Royal Court justacorps and gilets rendered in a bright shade of neon pink, or Edwardian long line coats in slick navy leather. They were unexpectedly paired with black skate shorts and sturdy boots. The key to every piece was that even for those that haven't had a history lesson in fashion, they could enjoy the sheer pleasure of a high neck Regency-era white pyjama shirt with lace peeking out in some cases or a coat with an embroidered sleeve and covered buttons. They're treats for the tired eye that won't have seen a vision of the 18th century and beyond, as exemplified by this particular collection. 

The set:

A gigantic mirrored box in the heart of the Louvre in the Cour Carrée reflecting the ancient palace where kings, queens and courtiers would have walked the hallways, wearing the sort of pieces that this collection was referring to. It was mesmerising and satisfyingly discombobulating to walk into the space where the exterior reflected the past and the interior – the same 2001: A Space Odyssey-esque circular set as for the haute couture show – stated Simons' vision for the future. 

Into the 18th century:

The references that popped into your head ranged from Marie Antoinette's shepherdess garb to Mr Darcy's wet white shirt in a BBC series of Pride and Prejudice. They're hardly the things that one associates with a Raf Simons collection. Look closely though and the sculpted sleeves of the court coats and night shirt blousons, fine-tuned smocking and embroidery as well as the hand knitted ankle boots had a technical precision about it all. This wasn't about remaking historical pieces as though it were costume but instead, distilling the essence of say the line of a frock coat and hinting at its opulent past with a sparingly sprinkling of embellishment. Simons may well volte face from this historical oeuvre next season, but to learn how to play with the historical codes with such freedom and confidence bodes well for the here and now of the house.