In his debut Haute Couture collection for Christian Dior Raf Simons, Christian Dior’s Creative Director, analyses the codes found in the clothing designs of Christian Dior himself during his time at the house of Dior. This marks the foundations of the house itself in the current collection.
“Mr Dior was a supreme architect of pattern,” says Simons. “He could construct something so perfect and yet he would often throw in a gesture on purpose to break that perfection. He would make what he did human for the wearer. You could tell he loved women in that way, in that incredible gestural way.” Raf Simons takes the codes of Mr Dior and transposes them to make the Haute Couture dynamic. For instance he takes the architectural symbolism of ‘the Bar’, the silhouette most often related to the idea of Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’, and shifts the jacket’s construction into other garments. At times he displaces that architectural construction to other parts of the body. Such architectural motifs abound in the collection, themselves becoming gestural marks of the current Creative Director.
This is one of the ways Christian Dior’s ‘Flower Women’ (the way Mr Dior himself referred to his ‘New Look’ silhouettes and attitude, betraying his flower obsession), become contemporary in the collection; the architecture of flowers is analysed in a different way for the contemporary world. As can be observed in the set – almost a metaphor for the collection as a whole – it is away from the traditional symbol of the couture bouquet to something akin to a more stripped linear construction, not just about decoration but actual architecture. It is a reinforcing of the idea of Christian Dior’s architectural approach in the construction of his clothing, together with the natural, human element, and an intense, new use of colour.
Perhaps the contemporary flower woman is seen at her clearest in the dissected ball-gown silhouettes. Starting with the pattern of a ball-gown from the archives, the original silhouette is sliced and shortened to form a short dress or a top to be worn with simple black cigarette pants. The upper half of the silhouette remains the same, untouched, the bottom half stresses the way we live now.
« Couture is not only about working on the shape the attitude and the colour in a new way,” states Raf Simons. “The Haute Couture collection is also about working on new forms with the industry that is related to Couture as a whole, working with them in a new way. It is an established industry with craftspeople that are beyond compare, but it is not just about reaching for a typical satin duchesse, a silk or tulle but the development of new fabrications and new forms with them.»