We think of Dior as a house built on evening wear – the French call that flou, which, as the name implies, denotes garments with a sense of fluidity and lightness. Even if a Dior ball gown was anything else. But Dior’s most famous fashion image is of la Tailleur Bar. It’s one of those house codes that Raf Simons has been fixated on since he began redesigning Dior in 2012. Hence the fact the Bar suit’s jacket, the nip-waisted, thrust-hipped silhouette originally cut in tussore silk by Pierre Cardin (a tailor at Dior before setting up under his own steam) appears again and again, insistently, in his collections, cut in everything from grain de poudre to denim.
In less than 24 hours, we’ve had four very, very different interpretations of twenty-first century haute couture. How to reconcile the whimsy of Marco Zanini’s Schiaparelli debut with the hyper-modern aerated layers of Raf Simons’ go-faster Dior? How could you compare the cinched-in, souped-up sexuality of Donatella Versace’s Atelier ode to Grace Jones with Giambattista Valli’s embroidered, gazar-wrapped chocolate-box frocks? Couture is about contrasts. There’s aren’t that many customers out there left, so canny couture houses are appealing to niches with deep, deep pockets.
Watching the menswear shows online – as I have been doing over these opening four days of the autumn/winter 2014 Paris collections – is very different to observing them in flesh and fabric.
The third day of my Paris fashion week – the fourth overall – has just finished. Raf Simons showed his latest collection for Christian Dior this afternoon. The major editors are out in force. The week has truly begun.
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