Keep your ‘lectric eye on me babe
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream oh yeah!
David Bowie’s lyrics of Moonage Daydream provides the perfect lyric prism in which to view the latest Dior show. It’s why it was one of the tracks used in the Bowie medley that soundtracked the show. You can be an alligator, a mama-papa, a space invader or more fittingly, a rock ‘n’ rolling bitch in these clothes. This show was so full in every way possible – full of eras, identities and ideas – I said in my Dazed Digital review of the show, “Too much of a good thing… is something amazing.” I with more designers would just go and do something that was “too much”. Then again, few have the bravada and the resources that Simons has to make everything work successfully. You could see it all as overbearing randomness or rather it was a freeing of haute couture that Simons so brilliantly expressed with this show.
“I was always thinking of the future for so many years and I was always anti-romanticising the past, but the past can be beautiful too, ” says Raf Simons. “There is a sense of the romance of the fifties, with the experimentation of the sixties and the liberation of the seventies in the collection – both in its materialisation and attitude. But I really wanted to express something that felt relevant for today, learnt from then, from the point of view of now; something wilder, more sexual, strange and certainly more liberated for the haute couture and for women.”
Wild and strange is exactly what we got as we entered this never ending mirrored maze of white scaffolding and strangely sensual deep pile dusky pink carpet. It was a time travel vehicle where Simons’ multi-decade, mucho-clashing, more-is-more vision for Dior could traverse through, going first around the hexagonal upper tier and then descending down the stairs. If you looked up at the ceiling, you saw these strange creatures reflected repeatedly into infinity. Sometimes there would be verbatim moments – like psychedelic catsuits taken straight from body painting editorial that might have appeared in late ’60s/early 70s Vogue under Diana Vreeland. Most of the time decades collided with one another – as seen in the ’60s PVC printed with Dior’s femme fleur and made up into ’50s opera coats, worn over short crystal shifts as well as early punk tattoo body suits. Bowie might have taken a liking to them in his Ziggy Stardust days. Or when a full skirted New Look era skirt collided with an O-ring cut-out bodice straight from a go go booted dance club. Speaking of which, the mere presence of those PVC slicked thigh high gogo boots in bright colours with metal cage heels, was more than enough to inject a kink in proceedings as well as a kick to the mainstream perception of what haute couture is supposed to be. Cue detractors decrying “This is not couture!”
I’ve literally just come been inside a couture atelier today (more about that in another post). The head of one of the ateliers said that she loved working in haute couture because there were no limits – in price and in ideas. If that’s the case then Simons has really understood this sense of freedom. Exploring its outer possibilities in materials and techniques as well as themes is how Simons has chosen to work with these ateliers, limitless in skill and resources – and that should be commended. The collective gushing post show was genuine and heartfelt. “So many ideas! So rich!” was the general consensus. Some can take what they want out of it – a grosgrain ribbon heavily pleated skirt here, a guipere lace dress there – indeed, clients are currently clustering around the racks right this moment, taking their pick. For us mere mortals, it’s the entire experience of this sensory overload that was so glorious to witness.