Artistic Director of Christian Dior, explores a new, liberated world of haute couture quite literally. It is a personal view of the creative process, playfully involving the identities both cultural and personal, of designer and client.
“I began by looking at women from different continents and cultures who wear couture, their personal style,” explains Raf Simons. “The collection evolved to be about Dior not just being about Paris and France, but about the rest of the world and how many fashion cultures impact on the house and on myself.”
The collection is split into four distinct realms: Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. Each features its own approach and what it symbolises as a fashion culture for Simons and Christian Dior. ‘Europe’ focuses on the almost mythical status of ‘La Parisienne’ and the intimate links with the history of the house of Dior. ‘The Americas’ is bold, sporty, dynamic and graphic – here the flag holds particular, emotional sway. ‘Asia’ features clothing full of balance, tradition and purity – the architecture and intricate construction of garments is the predominant focus here. ‘Africa’ represents freedom, playfulness and effortless creativity; the personal style of the Masaï is particular in its inspiration.
Each realm is approached with an equal weight and significance; a playfulness and pop sensibility runs throughout.
Effortless in appearance, each belies the supreme skills of the Dior Haute Couture ateliers pushed to the extremes, incorporating both globally traditional techniques such as Japanese shibori – the intricate binding and drying process that produces a fabric of distinct spikes – and classic French couture techniques such as embroidered feather work – here used to invoke a floor length singlet of stars.
The couture client is at the heart of this collection – as she always is. The distinct relationship between couturier and client is one of creative exchange, not one just of body but also of mind and spirit.
“My main aim has been to bring a sense of reality back to haute couture,” explains Raf Simons. “And this collection is about focusing on the reality of the woman herself, including her culture and personality; it is not just the reality of wearing the clothes but how a woman chooses to wear them; the liberation of choice and reflecting who she actually is.”
The idea of liberation and choice continues in the presentation itself. Four photographers, Patrick Demarchelier (Europe), Willy Vanderperre (The Americas), Paolo Roversi (Asia) and Terry Richardson (Africa) have been commissioned by Simons to re-interpret and re-imagine the collection as the show happens. It is their images,
photographed in their own distinct sets backstage, that are projected live on the white walls of the venue. They bring to visual culmination this new distinctly personal yet global view of haute couture.