Film: Dior & I Review

Dior & I Raf Simons

As a ridiculous Raf Simons fan-girl, I’ve been waiting to see Dior & I since it’s initial release in 2012. How appropriate then that I should go and see it the same day as I happened to stroll around an exhibition on the power of film at ACMI in Melbourne. That’s the most wonderful thing about a great movie, it can completely transport you; have you fixated until the final credits. From Simons excited and nervous arrival 8 weeks before the Fall 2012 Couture show to the final moments of scrambling to finish these incredible looks, the audience was taken on a journey of nerves, excitement, frustration and an irresistibly French sense of humour and stoicism. “It’s never over until the last girl is on the runway.”

In a world of countless designers, artists, writers and culture makers, it takes something extra special to be an icon. Coming from Jil Sander, not many people saw Raf Simons, with his famed minimal aesthetic, taking over from the flamboyant Galliano at Dior. “But I’m not a minimalist. I simply worked for a minimal brand.” Simons says exasperatedly in the documentary. Looking back at Dior’s celebrated mid-century aesthetic, Simons says it’s the excitement of the future that captivates him. Christian Dior wanted to take women out of their war-years uniforms and into a new femininity with his New Look, and there’s nothing retro about that. It’s pure optimism. Similarly, Simons was determined to take the best of the past and push it towards something completely modern.

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The only small thing standing in his way (but really of course helping him) was the eye watering amount of time and man power it takes to make a couture piece. “How soon until we can have this jacket in black?” he asks of an iconic bar jacket at the first fitting. “Possibly Saturday,” is the answer. “But can we spray paint it now?” he asks. His premiere thinks for a second, “but of course, it’s toile.” And out into the garden with a can of spray paint it goes. It’s this kind of thinking, an outsider’s thinking, that is able to take the beautiful and treasured art of couture and breathe fresh new life into it. And there’s something so inspiring about a leader who doesn’t need to yell, who does’t get overtaken by his own insecurities, but who trusts and values his team.

I loved this collection since the first time I saw it, but getting an insight into the thought and work behind it just makes it all the more sublime (Simons’ favourite word). And photographs can’t do justice to the way the fabric moves on film. I just hope these looks end up in a museum one say soon so I can see them in person. If this movie doesn’t make you want to move to Paris and go and work for a couture house, then nothing will. You’ll have to excuse me, I’ll just be over here practicing my French.

Natalie x

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Style: SS12 Couture Round-Up

There may be few old-school artisan fashion houses still showing at Paris Couture Week, but for those that are still standing, it offers a unique chance to show off the breathtaking levels of skill of their ateliers.  Couture clothes are by definition one-of-a-kind and are often heavily adorned with intricate embellishment to show off the skill of the designers. However with the pace that most fashion houses are now churning out collections, some fashion editors are asking whether couture week is living up to it’s own hype (see Cathy Horyn’s interesting article here). With SS12 giving us everything from Jean Paul Gaultier’s vision of Amy Winehouse to Chanel airways, here is our guide of all you need to know.

Most Likely to be Worn at the Oscars: Elie Saab

The Lebanese designer showed a collection full of light and delicate pieces in pale blues, creams, peaches and yellows that was easily the most mainstream and wearable of the week. Sheer slimline evening gowns and subtle glamour marked a contrast to some of the more out-there designs of the rest of the week. It’s a sure bet that at least one Saab dress will be gracing the red carpet come Oscar night.

Best Setting: Chanel

Karl Lagerfeld took his guests on a luxury trip with Chanel airways, complete with drinks trolleys and a starry sky overhead, showing 150 shades of blue in his collection along the way. Known for his extravagant backdrops, Karl clearly has the biggest budget to work with and always hits the news with his lavish shows. Last season’s Raj inspired decadence was replaced with drop-waisted pieces in Chanel’s trademark boyish yet elegant style.

 Best Craftsmanship: Christian Dior

Still with no replacement for the controversial design maverick John Galliano, acting Creative Director Bill Gaytten decided to fall back on the distinctive Dior New Look style. We saw beautifully well-made full skirted ball gowns and nipped in waisted cocktail dresses with delicate black floral embroidery over sheer layering. Was this a genius way of reminding us of the timelessness of Dior, or a stunningly made collection with little creative direction? The jury’s out, but we still love Dior.

Loving the Colour Green: Versace and Armani Prive

Clearly Shrek green is a massive deal this year. Who are we to argue?

The Amy Winehouse Tribute: Jean Paul Gaultier

Leaving subtle references to the others, JPG sent models down the runway with giant beehives and eyeliner. Fred Perry style polo dresses were shown alongside more traditionally Gaultier style heavily embellished pencil skirts and corsets.

The One to Watch: Givenchy

Riccardo Tisci’s somber collection of Metropolis inspired 20s evening gowns may have been shown on a basketball court but these were by no means lacking in glamour. In a week of huge ball gowns and bright colours, Tisci showed that there is no need to shout out loud to make an impact. Sophisticated gowns with draped structuring gave us a a preview of the 20s style glamour we will all be craving this year.