For the Christian Dior Fall 2014 Haute Couture collection, Raf Simons showed was fascinating in its foundation, and often beautifully rendered. “This collection is very historically inspired,” Simons said in a preview backstage. “It felt like a challenge to look further back in history and see how I could modernize certain aesthetics. That is my constant drive, to make it younger and make it relevant to women in their lives today. Always, to be modern.” So, too, was the mesmerizing set at the Rodin Museum a pristine, round pavilion, its mirrored walls covered in thousands of densely packed white orchids.
The first inspiration: constricting 18th-century courtly costume that corseted women and fancified men. Simons interpreted the Robe à la Française, a structured bodice with massive side-to-side volume in the skirt, with outward subtlety — from an old pretty dress sprung a series of new pretty dresses. These charmed in white, silver, barely there green and blue jacquards, their exquisite embroideries applied with smart restraint.
As for the mannish frock coats, Simons turned them casual, even removing the sleeves from a green astrakhan version. In between, he presented the collection’s wildest juxtaposition, integrating elements of astronauts’ flight suits — specifically utilitarian zippers — into dresses before switching gears and applying traditional embroideries onto full-on flight suits.
He offered an ode to the last century’s early fashion liberationist, the flapper, her lines free and easy, and her embroideries intricate but not at all coy.
Simons delivered a dose of sporty daytime drama with bold floor-sweeping coats that derived from Edwardian days yet that rang a bell of free-to-be Sixties rock. And in “Collar meets Bar,” he continued to reinvent the house standard. He closed with deftly embroidered silk dresses that referenced the show’s structured openers, their volume now comfortably deflated via gently released pleats.