Rivals turn out in force to witness Dior's new guru make Paris debut
THE who's who of the fashion world came out to toss flowers at the feet of Christian Dior's new creative director yesterday, applauding the fresh and modern approach Raf Simons has brought to the feminine extravagance of a grand French atelier.
The Belgian couturier greeted oversized expectations for his first Dior collection with a decidedly architectural look of sumptuous understatement.
Rival designers Alber Elbaz of Lanvin, Louis Vuitton's Marc Jacobs, Versace's Donatella Versace and even veteran couturier Pierre Cardin were on hand for the Simons debut in a grand Parisian mansion festooned with flowers.
"Flower women" is how Christian Dior referred to his revolutionary 1940s creations that used an abundance of fabric cinched in tightly at the waist to create his "New Look" silhouette that personified post-war elegance and excess.
That floral idea, deconstructed, found its way into the new autumn/winter 2012-2013 Haute Couture collection, as the designer known for minimalism used dramatic colour and delicate workmanship to revive Dior's vision.
Models navigated a catwalk that wound through five colour-coded rooms whose walls were covered floor to ceiling with either blue delphiniums, white orchids, red and orange roses or pink roses and peonies.
Structured bodices were intricately stitched to resemble petals, with subtle folds of fabric that opened like new buds on flirtatious dresses or curvaceous suits.
"The architecture of flowers is analysed in a different way for the contemporary world," wrote Simons in his collection notes, adding that an "intense, new use of colour" was central.
Following the show, designer Elbaz summed up the collection succinctly: "Voila modernity."
Others agreed. French actress Marion Cotillard, wearing a navy floral dress with a short full skirt, called the collection "sublime," while black-clad Sharon Stone dubbed the floral motifs "very witty."