Serge Ruffieux and Lucie Meier chose to place a youthful twist on ideas previously laid out by Raf Simons while honoring house codes.
Dior’s decision to bide its time in selecting the perfect designer to fill the huge role of Creative Director left by Raf Simons means that the brand is currently leaderless, but not exactly rudderless. Provisional appointments were made in the interim. Serge Ruffieux and Lucie Meier were plucked from their positions within the house and tasked with designing Spring 2016 Couture, an assignment that most would dread given the beating that interim designer Bill Gaytten took in the press when he was tapped to fill John Galliano’s shoes after he was fired from Dior. Given the maison’s recent setbacks, this show could have gone many ways, but fortunately, Ruffieux and Meier chose to place a youthful twist on ideas previously laid out by Simons while honoring house codes.
The biggest problem that Dior’s interim designers ran into was a lack of refinement. It was hard to see the couture effort in the clothes, which is disappointing given the brand’s superlatively talented atelier team, but perhaps time constraints got in the way of executing a more lavish collection. The distinct lack of wow-factor was thrown into sharp relief by an extravagantly constructed mirrored backdrop, which was awe-inspiring in its own right but tended to overwhelm the clothes that walked in front of it. If you’re going to build a structure at that scale and height, you’d better have a collection that can stand up to it.
Ruffieux and Meier chose to place a youthful twist on ideas previously laid out by Simons while honoring house codes.
Several aesthetics were cobbled together to create slope-shouldered outerwear dusted with glittering embroidery and paillettes, as sheer panels and rippled pleats fanned out from beneath hemlines, sleeves, and necklines. Some of the ideas seemed to come from within the house, like reworked ‘Bar’ jackets, floral and insect embellishment (representing several of Christian Dior’s personal talismans), and the enticing tulip-shaped curvature of the modern Dior silhouette. The youthful attitude of the collection was boosted by trompe l’oeil sheer fabrics that stretched taut across the chest of models. Worn beneath sturdy jackets, these stretches of barely-there fabric bore tiny crystal embellishments that looked like they were attached directly to the skin. It was a pretty accent to the collection’s heavier fabrics, as were the dipping, asymmetrical, ballerina necklines of Dior’s tops. Like the flowers that Dior so loved, necklines peeled back like ruffled petals, granting a glimpse of décolletage, while other necklines were shaped into halters that suspended the arms of cut-out shoulder sleeves.
There were some really great ideas working in the collection, but the glaring truth is: this collection screamed Ready-to-Wear, not Couture. There were lots of gorgeous looks that women would want to wear, just not at Couture’s steep prices. There was no build-up to a mind-blowing finale. There was no fiery denouement in the form of glittering gowns or a closing wedding dress, as is custom with Couture. It’s clear that Ruffieux and Meier share the same vision as Simons when it comes to modernizing the storied maison, but now they are tasked with refining that vision in a way that makes sense for their very demanding couture clientele.