Yesterday, just behind Les Invalides in the 7th Arrondisement of Paris, Raf Simons showed his second ready-to-wear collection for Christian Dior. Inside a room decorated with floors adorned by clouds (riffing off the Spring/Summer ad campaigns, perhaps) and a mirrored ceiling reflecting the same clouds, it was only the enormous silver balloon balls that could have detracted from the obvious air (pun so intended) of fluidity and the crisp lightness reflective of the collection. Eventually, those enormous balloons would function as a perfect window, mirroring the models as Simons sent them down the runway, effectively offering all of us–even in the fourth row–a front row experience.
The soundtrack choice was interesting: a collection of subversive dialogues among inconspicuous voices tackling the mundane: how do you take your coffee? Do you want to eat carrots? Can you walk and think simultaneously? How do you feel about dog maintenance? The show notes made sense of it, though: “the persistence of memory,” it wrote, “the thoughts, the feelings and experiences that flow and inspire the creative process over the passage of time.” What a clear representation of the evolving relationship between Raf Simons and Christian Dior.
Simons seems to have a very clear and respectful understanding of the past. He appreciates it, is nostalgic for it, but has seemingly discarded that which cannot still be rendered relevant. What he has done for Christian Dior verifies that the design process is not about creating things that never were before–it’s about making them one’s own. In Simons’ case that means not only maintaining his own DNA but also that of Christian Dior’s. The Warholian shoes, the playful sketches, the watercolor work–and yet, the dramatic, red coat, knit work, and overwhelmingly streamlined silhouettes are an authentic fusion of taste. One that reveals simultaneous respect and an absence of self-consciousness about Simons’ regard for his own talent.
And when fashion can make a person feel like this, like she has something to say and it’s meaningful and painted with a heavy stroke of truth–that is a rare, magical thing.