"We can't say no to clients."
"Well, you also can't say no to me."
These are the kinds of tense conversations that are common enough in any office, but you rarely hear them in any film or TV representation of fashion people. Too often, the glitzier elements — flashbulb-soaked front rows, red carpets, celebrities “just dropping by” the atelier for an air kiss and a suspiciously pre-customized gown — crowd out the nitty-gritty of actually designing a collection. Because who wants to see the nitty-gritty?
Well, as it turns out, it can be pretty fascinating. Frédéric Tcheng's film, Dior and I, which is opening this year's Tribeca Film Festival on April 17, offers unprecedented access into the LVMH-owned house's inner workings. While quiet and moderately paced, the 89-minute documentary has a race-to-the-finish aspect underlying it. Designer Raf Simons, newly hired and having never designed a couture collection, is given a mandate: You have eight weeks to concoct something that will please house loyalists and clients, while at the same time being utterly different and groundbreaking. Oh, and your predecessor, John Galliano, was ousted in one of the messiest fashion scandals of all time. No pressure. (The one jarring element of the film, the ghostly voice of M. Dior as portrayed by poet Omar Berrada, is meant to indicate this already-too-evident stress.)
The other source of tension: Simons — who comes across as a calm, rational sort, with an occasional flare of temper — is an innovator, not a disciple of New Look nostalgia. "The past is not romantic to me," he says at one point. "The future is romantic to me." Thus we see members of his team spray-painting a Bar jacket and papering mood boards with contemporary art references. Simons also wants to do certain things that turn out to be just short of impossible, like using a technique called imprimé chaîne to re-create Sterling Ruby’s prints on fabric — at one point, someone says that only four engravers in France know how to do it, and they’re all busy). He also demands a Jeff Koons puppy–inspired floral set. (These end up requiring a staff of 50 people and 1 million fresh flowers. We hear only that the process was very expensive, but Dior CEO Sidney Toledano seems perturbed.)
The film will probably draw comparisons to Valentino: The Last Emperor, which Tcheng also worked on, but it’s more reminiscent of The September Issue, which earned plaudits for accurately depicting what it’s like to work at a magazine. (Yes, people really do stand and fuss around light boxes for hours. It’s hell on the knees.) We see Simons popping Champagne with his team, bickering with his recalcitrant petits mains, covering his eyes while watching a show rehearsal, high-fiving a member of his staff. He even calls one oversize coat "Romeo Gigli on acid" — he's surprisingly quippy.
When show day finally comes, Simons does channel his inner prima donna. He has some strange fear of walking down the entire runway to take his bow. He will "faint" if he must complete the entire catwalk circuit, which he likens to "a walk in the desert." Even though he almost comes out too early, with six models still to go, Simons eventually makes his bow. The rest of the footage is familiar: house faces Jennifer Lawrence and Marion Cotillard embrace him, fellow designers kiss the ring, Mom and Dad deliver hugs. But it’s hard to imagine that any of these people can comprehend the work that went into everything they saw. Luckily, now we know.
Most Viewed Stories
Josh Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s Brother-in-Law, Was Reportedly Spotted at the Women’s March
A Scene from the D.C. Women’s March
Bernie Sanders Wore the Only Appropriate Outfit to Trump’s Inauguration
Pro-Choice and Pro-Life Marchers Came Face-to-Face at the Women’s March
Why the Election of 9 Black Female Judges in Alabama Matters
Taylor Swift Won’t Save Us From Donald Trump
The Greatest Signs From the Women’s March
16 of the Cutest Kids at the Women’s March
Madonna to Women’s March Detractors: ‘F*ck You’
Over 1 Million New York Women Will Have Access to Free Contraception and Abortions
From Our Partners
Who What Wear
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.