Often heard from the mouths of both Raf Simons devotees and critics are more than simple utterances of affection. The ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ that accompany each look are more than just momentary sighs of another young woman desiring a new dress. They can be seen as epitomes of the sense of muted adoration for the Belgian designer's talents.
It is rather surprising to remember that there were doubting skeptics when Simons started at Dior. Indeed, one does not have to look too far back to last year when he debuted his Spring/Summer 13' collection; it was received with rather mixed emotions. At the pace which fashion moves however, much of that is irrelevant today and one can only imagine being thought outdated for even mentioning it.
But to return to the past is something one must do in order to get a balanced view of things when thinking about fashion. As fashion veteran Diane Pernet once said: ‘it takes a certain amount of curiosity and openness towards what is new combined with a strong understanding of what went on in the past to be a really great critic.’
Looking back at the past and forward into the present therefore requires not so much of a propensity for sentimentality and nostalgia but also a predilection for certain, and perhaps even greater knowledge. So when we look at the house of Dior from a historical perspective, the New Look defined the later part of 20th-Century fashion and the house of Dior was a very traditional but also modern fashion house. That was Christian Dior. Raf Simons is taking the house of Dior forward – but in a new direction. Why he has done this of course is the definition of fashion itself; there is a need for constant newness and reinvention.
So for Resort 2014 we see the hour-glass silhouette coming back with just enough emphasis on the hips with jackets, and also elaborate draping on tops that creates a neckline stopping just before the V-shape takes things too far. Simons took things further with the addition of a collar – undoubtedly a masculine touch to what is otherwise quite feminine - and added short sleeves instead of elbow-length ones to the top (see Look 16). The graphicness of his cropped tees and vest dresses also showed how he has experimented and brought something new to the house.
Taking on the role of such an iconic designer as Christian Dior evidently means that as a designer, one has to inhabit and project those values and ideas of a predecessor. Simons’ embracing of his part comes to light in a showcase that certainly bespeaks a brighter future. He has done for Dior what other lesser designers could not have done, proving once again that he is the only man for the job.