The fact that so many customers and admirers attend a Christian Dior fashion show – in addition to the usual editors and retailers – is highly instructive in how a collection will ultimately work outside the fashion bubble.
The invited guests tend to arrive dressed in the latest Dior kit and they did not disappoint Friday afternoon. The women favored side-swept skirts with generous tucks and folds cascading down one hip. They also had an affinity for the more formal skirts that were thigh-length in front while dropping to the ankle in the back. No matter that the sun was still shining brightly on an unseasonably warm September day – if it was woolen cocktail attire that they had from the current season, well then, what the heck? That is what they wore.
Attractiveness is a subjective thing and diplomacy is preferable to unkind bluntness. Oftentimes, the clothes did not do justice to the wearer’s inherent beauty. This is not because they were ill-fitting or oddly colored but because they were simply difficult to wear. They were clothes that required a specific body type — long and lean. And they demanded a certain carriage: The theatrical nonchalance of an experienced model. They also needed the right setting, which sounds like an especially odd thing to say since what could be a more perfect moment to wear a Dior princess skirt than to a Dior fashion show?
But in the middle of a Dior universe, constructed in the courtyard of the Rodin Museum from scaffolding and more flowers than in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the clothes looked self-conscious and fussy. They looked like costumes.
Their true home was the fantasy world of the runway. And their ideal customer was a model.
This was worth remembering as designer Raf Simons unveiled his spring 2014 collection. On the runway, with thousands of flowers hanging from the ceiling, the clothes were fanciful and feminine and steeped in the traditions of the house. Short pleated skirts flounced beneath tailored jackets that curved over the hips. Cropped “Bar” jackets were adorned with sparkling patches that called to mind old-fashioned passport stamps and travel stickers. Shirtdresses twisted around the body and the functional front placket, with its discreet buttons, became decorative as it curved around the waist and along the hip. Boxy double-breasted jackets shined in metallic pastels. A delicate bubble skirt in pale pink was paired with a grass-green satin shell.
Simons noted that the collection was divided into three categories: “Traveller, Transformer and Transporter,” although, aside from the travel patches, it was difficult determining where the other pieces fit. Some of the most beautiful looks from the collection were in the finale, where Simons reprised some of his own aesthetic strokes from his debut collection. Silver brocade ball dresses were cropped and worn over skinny black trousers; others were left full length to billow out extravagantly. Tuxedo jackets became minidresses, or were elongated and paired with trousers for a sexy example of fine tailoring.
The oddest silhouettes on the runway were the pleated skirts merged with shorts. While this splicing of fashion DNA might have been an intoxicating experiment in the Dior atelier, the result left the impression that the models had simply yanked on a pair of shorts over their skirts and left bits of them hanging out. Risk-taking is admirable, but this just looked like tomfoolery.
Which brings us back to the ladies of Dior – the customers, the admirers, the supplicants. It was hard to imagine much of what was on the runway doing them a service. And God help them if they tried to wiggle into that diaper-short-skirt contraption.
The models could only just barely make an argument that the vast majority of these clothes had a place on a city street or even at some rarified party. It was fairly unconvincing. One pale pleated skirt had a circular cutout over the hipbone. How many hipbones should ever be revealed any place other than a beach? Exactly, one. And we’ve already seen it. In 1996, at Gucci, when Tom Ford’s iconic white jersey gown revealed the left hipbone of Carolyn Murphy and it was magnificent.
Simons put a host of interesting ideas on the runway. But most felt like proposals and possibilities. They were not offered in a high-minded or pretentious manner. He was not trying to appeal to the intellect so that a woman might enjoy the premise of a dress without ever considering it as clothing.
Instead, they read like the experiments of a vastly talented designer enjoying the resources at his disposal but forgetting that the limits of his customers are very real.BEGIN SLIDESHOW
Most Viewed Stories
Blake Lively Reportedly Just Gave Birth, and You’ll Never Guess Who’s Running to the Hospital
I Tried Hillary Clinton’s Diet and Now I Sympathize With Her
Elizabeth Warren Just Said What Most Women Wish They Could to Donald Trump
Brad Pitt Fights Back Against Angelina Jolie and Her Plot to ‘Destroy’ Him
The Mysterious Deaths of Two Sisters in a Luxury Hotel
Prince George Has No Time for Justin Trudeau’s High Fives
What It’s Like to Be a Female Reporter Covering Donald Trump
Looks Like Kate Middleton Is Enjoying the View in Canada
It’s Time to Stop Writing ‘I Hope You’re Well’ in Emails
Megyn Kelly Roasts Trump’s Campaign Manager for Claiming He Doesn’t Make Sexist Comments
From Our Partners
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Fashion FeaturesCiara's Wedding Dress Was Too Big for the Chapel
To be fair, it was a 13 foot-long dress.You and Rihanna Will Both Want to Invest in Dior’s New Bag
It's got something for everyone.Polo Shirts Have Turned Their Back on Ryan Lochte
Along with his other major sponsors.Ryan Lochte Will No Longer Be Paid to Wear Tiny Bathing Suits
Speedo remains committed to transparency.Laura Brown Is the New Editor-in-Chief of InStyle
After 11 years at Harper’s Bazaar.Tyra Banks Is Going to Teach a Class on Smizing at Stanford
"If I see somebody not paying attention, I’m gonna call on them."This Floating Pier Is the Most Zen Installation Ever
Walking on water in Italy.Nation Is Appalled by Matt Lauer’s Nude Ankles During Ryan Lochte Interview
What’s the opposite of “Jeah”?8 People at the Life of Pablo Pop-up Explain Why Kanye West Is a God
"I mean, Kanye West is just Kanye West. There's not more or less you can say about Kanye West. He's just Mr. West!"A T-shirt Is Enough
Simplicity, versatility, and cool. What more could you want?
She took a perfect pencil dive off a 30-foot yacht.American Apparel Is Being Sued by Former Workers
As the company considers putting itself up for sale.A Gendered History of the Tailored Suit
From Marlon Brando to Coco Chanel.How Zendaya Developed Such Great Style at the Young Age of 19
The star's best looks from Disney to now.Proof That If You’re Chic Enough, a Little Federal Investigation Doesn’t Matter
Is this the best they could do?5,300-Year-Old Mummified Iceman Probably Would’ve Been a Street-Style Star
He had several different looks and was “pretty picky.”J.Crew Has Identified 226 Shades of Pink
Even more than there are shades of gray.Gigi and Bella Hadid Merch Is Now Somehow a Thing That Is Happening
Today in Hadidiana.Gird Your Loins for the Return of Yeezy to New York Fashion Week
The season approaches.This Indie Brand Had a Great Response to Ivanka Trump
When she bought one of their cuffs, they donated the proceeds to the Clinton campaign.