Three years into his tenure at Dior, Raf Simons has brought new energy and modernity into the venerable French maison de couture. After Brooklyn last year, Dior held its 2016 cruise presentation at the “bubble house” own by Pierre Cardin on the French Riviera, a famous hotspot competing with other well-known coveted locations for the best visuals. Strangely enough, the three luxury branches chose to set their collections against the same sort of futuristic backdrops: As it turned out, Chanel under the spaceship-like hull of Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul; Louis Vuitton, beneath the swooping space-age canopy of Bob Hope house in Palm Springs; and Christian Dior inMonsieur Cardin’s bubble-shaped dwelling. The front row was taken by Oscar winner Marion Cotillard, Zoe Kravitz, Theresa Palmer and Dakota Fanning.
The atmosphere of the Bubble House location was utterly appropriate: Playful, intimate, feminine and extremely private. From an architectural point of view, the place does not hold any authority. When looking through Simons’ trajectory at the house, one might think he has been subtly subverting Dior’s authority, twisting it to his own vision, imposing his own personality, and the choice of location is a clear evocation of that idea. He presented a collection both abstract and traditional, filled with bold volumes and asymmetrical designs. Patterns, and especially plaids, were seen throughout the show, often with metallic effects. Balloon-sleeved checked jackets, minidresses, variations on shorts, ribbed boyish knit dresses colourfully disintegrated into lacy shreds in the skirts were presented on the catwalk with freshness and candid feminity. The looks of some of the dresses reflected the brilliant blues and greens of the ocean, made metallic in a multicolored skirt and a matching dress. There were silhouettes made for a casual beach day and more formal events, both for the young lady looks and for a grown-up clientele. The whole collection looked refreshing and dense with variety—everything from practical tailoring to funny knitted swimsuits.
Simons emphasized shimmer and contrasting textures, along with layering effects, while maintaining a strong sense of breeziness and modernity. The addition of light fabrics, bright colour and Lurex collages, playfully recreated the traditional tailoring of classic Dior. Indeed, Dior’s classic femme fleur was embodied by shimmering, crystal-strewn florals and most commonly, by pleated underskirts. That was Simons’ artistic way of addressing his own vision of the uncomfortable restriction of Dior’s original dresses. Here, structure and ease were intertwining: the dresses have elements of 1960s style but remain contemporary.
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