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Paris Fashion Week Coverage: Dior Fall 2012 Couture

Finally, after more than a year of waiting, speculation and groaning, Dior named Raf Simons to the position of Creative Director. A few perfectly arched eyebrows were raised among the fashion elite at this choice. Simons was a masterful designer with an acclaimed final collection at Jil Sander, but he was so minimalist. Could he pull from the feminine fantasy that Dior was well known for and still make it his own? Meanwhile, we have waited in the wings, watching the drama unfold. This has been a torturous three-part play, and today, we got our climax.

Raf Simons’ first collection for Dior was nothing short of perfect. It’s one so rare and so refined that it immediately reduced us to stuttering epithets. In fact, it’s taken nearly all day to write this review because words stop short of being able to describe what really only needs to be SEEN.

There was no doubt that it would be good, even great. What was unexpected was that it would redefine Couture as we know it. The setting alone was enough to win some kind of design award, with the salons of the venue coated in blossoms. Why blossoms? Dior’s love affair with flowers is universally known and appreciated, and Simons’ choosing this as the backdrop for his collection signaled how much he’s learned while rooting through Dior archives for the past four months.

Past the flowers, down a level runway came a collection that managed to be clearly Dior (modernized New Look silhouettes, reinvented Bar jackets) and clearly Simons that the feat took on the aura of the supernatural. Who is the new Dior woman? She’s got two slim legs in perfectly tailored cigarette pants that stop just at the ankle, and an hourglass topper. She’s a vixen on par with Jessica Rabbit and a demure demigoddess like Audrey Hepburn. She flaunts curves with confidence, and flirts in even the most basic floor-length gowns. She is young and old, inexperienced and experienced. Every nuance is represented here without apology. Her sexuality is powerful and raw, and Simons doesn’t try to cover it up. He enhances it. While Galliano preferred theater, Simons prefers substance. This is just the beginning. Today, the brand’s DNA strand mutated to include the needs of the modern woman. While Couture has strived in the past few decades to adorn and disguise, Simons has come along and stripped it down to something far more honest – something we didn’t even know we needed or wanted.

He has, in effect, given women back to themselves.

written by GRACE GORDON|photos: courtesy of GoRunway

-July 3, 2012

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