“I don’t like it when people pin it down too quickly. I don’t want to pin it down myself.” By “it”, Raf Simons was referring to the aesthetic that he has established over the last two years at the house of Dior. That’s me told then. Afterall, I had been the one rooting for and cheering on the increasing level of Raf-ness that we’ve been seeing at Dior over the past few seasons in both the couture and the ready to wear. Silly fashion commentator me. OF COURSE Raf Simons will have more tricks up his sleeve than the reality-imbued clothing, which has thus far marked his tenure at Dior. When I briefly interviewed Simons for Dazed Digital, after the Dior Cruise show in New York, he hinted that in the future, he might explore the more fantastical elements of Dior.
That speaks volumes about the way we writers and journalists like to box designers in rapidly, sorting and filing them away into stylistic pigeon holes and as a result, hackneyed cliches in articles are hashed out and rehashed. Ok Raf. Lesson learnt. I’ll try to keep the generalisations to myself.
With that said, there’s no denying that Simons has been attracted to the idea of women REALLY wearing the clothes he creates at Dior. The growing sales of the ready to wear supports that and beyond fashion circles, on the streets, I’ve started to see a few instances of Dior par Raf clobber popping up (albeit on the poshest of womenfolk). Simon’s latest cruise ode to the East/West Coast of America didn’t deviate from that sense of reality – well his sense of reality. It may have been an extravagant journey – all aboard a Dior-branded yellow taxi ferry complete with Dior grey attired sailors – to get to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. (Yes, those chiselled Abercrombie-esque sailor dudes were laughing at me as I snapped them). But the clothes we saw were anything but. They lived, breathed and moved, thanks to the central leitmotif of the silk carré. They fluttered on hankerchief hem skirts. Their corners revealed a triangle of archive Dior prints flapping against stark black and white. They were ruched under cropped tailored tops and knotted around the ankles on sandals. Their very square formation would be rendered in organza and patch worked into sheer slip dresses.
Literally flying the flag for nuanced culture clashing, Simons’ take on bohemian LA vibes, evident in the patchwork fur coats, blanket-edged coats and “homespun” macramé, was always balanced out by more rigorous elements. And so against all that movement and levity was Simons taking a different look at Dior’s structured silhouettes as he dissected the atelier mannequin and used the central bodice as a recurring shape to construct dresses and tops.
Perhaps a better way of describing the Raf-ness that I’ve been perceiving to have seeped into Dior is to call it freedom. Simons is steering this Dior ship with a firm hand on the wheel. Where it goes is anyone’s guess but the journey will sure to be an exciting one. Branded ferries, cute sailors and all.