Couture Week Kicks off With Dior, Without Raf Simons

A new question has surfaced in the fashion discourse: are we entering the era of the anonymous designer? For every Olivier Rousteing who has turned the house of his or her majority vote into a celebrity cock pit (and, incidentally, hubs of kid clothes), there seems to emerge two Alessandro Micheles: behind-the-scenes visionaries with experience that is equal to or greater than their better known contemporaries. This is true of Demna Gvasalia, of Vêtements, who will show his first collection for Balenciaga in March, and of Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant, the duo who has been tasked with the revival of Courrèges.

Then yesterday, Dior’s studio head designers, Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux, who have both worked closely at the house with Raf Simons (who heroically stepped down in late 2015 and caused an entire industry to yell, “Burn out!”) showed a couture collection that was, technically speaking, awesome.

While there are sprinklings of what look like cultural models that have been built by some of Dior’s contemporaries (specifically those of Nicolas Ghesquière), there are three important questions one should ask in order to determine whether a collection is good.

+If I didn’t know what I was looking at, would I know what I’m looking at?

+Do I feel inspired? invigorated?

+Do the clothes make me want to say something new? This doesn’t necessarily mean that the collections follow the Marc Jacobs model (wherein a new collection that lacks any semblance to the one that came before is brought forward at the initiation of a new season every single time), but it does mean: do these clothes support or contradict the sentence that this house put forward as its thesis? At their best, clothes are supposed to make you think. They’re a conversational vessel that promotes opinion breaking and idea making.

So did these clothes do that? Yeah. Sure. Here I am, compelled to speak. Feeling invigorated by the espresso shot of a full, flimsy mini skirt made entirely from dainty appliqués you could barely detect.

And as for whether or not I know what I’m looking at, fundamentally speaking, Raf Simons’ greatest contribution to fashion’s discourse beyond the stunning clothes — sometimes tense and always challenging, has been his modernization of what it means to wear couture. Of who wears couture. No longer is the season simply a string of red carpet dresses and difficult-to-wear trapeze coats — Met Gala clothes that serve no purpose beyond standing on a carpet and being photographed. On the contrary, it’s a brand new way to show our individualist-obsessed world that you’re different. You can wear the clothes, you can live in the clothes and they will support you in response.

What do these clothes do if not that?

So I’m thrilled. On the one hand, to see what is turned out at ready-to-wear, but on the other, to see what happens to what we’re calling the anonymous phenoms. There’s only so long that great work can go unknown.

Photographs via Vogue Runway. Feature image photographed by Ward Ivan Rafik from Dior.


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  • Elizabeth Tamkin

    A point that I found extremely profound (amongst others) was that the clothes worn at, say the Met Gala, or really most red carpet events, “serve no purpose beyond standing on a carpet and being photographed.” You say that we want to stand out, that we want to look different. This is so true and I think the most inspiring way to do this is to wear clothes that are realistic but creative. Quite frankly, while red carpet attire (much of couture) is artful and truly sculptural, it isn’t what we necessarily want to see 35+ looks of going down the runway. Thank you for writing this piece, it’s given me a lot to think about pre-fashion week.

  • Stephanie
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  • For the most part, the collection was full of things I could actually imagine myself wearing. Like the pants. And all of look 3 and especially 4. I know Dior is a luxury brand, but even millionaires aren’t wearing massive ballgowns (or are they??) on an everyday basis. This means one can wear luxury even on a normal Tuesday.

    Of course, if you’re able to afford it. But still, I wonder how it will also translate to “fast fashion” brands.

  • Alessandra

    First of all, well said Leandra. I can feel your honest excitement through the internet!

    If one is looking for a ball gown for the few days out of 365 days a year one is requested to dress in such, well bravo then. But for the other 364 days a year, fashion needs to be applicable. There are only so many Balmain bandage skirt appropriate times of the week/month/year. For the rest of it, we want clothes that apply to our lives. This highlights the importance of that

  • Natalie

    I love the collection! I particular like how they mixed Raf´s cool and clean look with those patterned fabrics. A bit as if Raf met the last Vetments collection.

  • I really loved the Dior collection. I saw a few people critiquing it, but I think they’re just upset about Raf leaving still. I love that couture, and Dior in particular, has really modernized what couture is all about and understands that as extravagant and over-the-top as it is, it is still meant to be worn in the real world. I find the daytime/”casual” looks to be much more interesting than any of the evening dresses, so I’m excited that couture designers have put more attention towards the looks that might actually be worn by non-celebrities. Great article!

  • I’m a truly fan of what Raf Simon’s did at Dior, but I’m also a truly fan of this collection. Sometimes we believe that without a leader, we are lost and about to sink. Well, I can tell you that Belgium stayed almost 2 years without a government, that in my department we stayed one year without a Vice President, and that probably Dior can live without a creative director. However, people like to have a figure to whom idealize and adore, so I don’t agree with your point over anonymous designers. I mean, if it’s not Raf Simons, it would be Meier or Ruffieux. You can pick an unknown person, like Michele, but they will become stars… actually media changes them to celebrities.

    And know check out the Prada’s video that has open a new story-line about a possible change at the fashion industry. What do you think??

    Bests!! M

  • Natty

    Those flouncy skirts are stunning. First time I’ve ever thought “I could wear that to the office!” about a couture collection. So wearable yet so special. Bravo.

  • Sue

    That’s to bad, I really liked his last collection.

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    i like good fashionable clothes in this picture.

  • Band Trand

    To be honest i would like say that, this was a awesome collection i ever seen.

  • Max

    To the designers of the latest Dior Couture collection: Great job!
    Before I was afraid the traditional house is going to loose the design of Raf but thankfully Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux mastered the aesthetic of the legendary designer!

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  • Sindiso Tshuma

    “There’s only so long that great work can go unknown.” Very true. Though there is an allure about the initial anonymity.
    Beautiful collection. I’m SO OVER the see through dresses though. It’s time to move on from them.

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  • fastnfusioncurryhouse

    Loved the style, Good collection

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