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Paris Haute Couture: Dior S/S 2013

In a mirrored garden of green topiary, young trees and grassy bushes, Raf Simons’ second collection for Christian Dior was one of fresh, organic splendour. After winning the hearts of the fashion industry with his couture debut last year, the stakes were high for the second installment. Drawing inspiration from the original designer’s personal interests, Simons’ explained how he found his inspiration through the ‘visual poetry’ of the countryside; fitting for the purity found in the most impressive pieces of the collection. Among the luscious bushes lay pretty white paths and a cloudless sky, representing the purity of the land just before spring. According to the designer, when the new season hits, the models emerged from the landscape, as the new ‘blooms of spring’, in a beautiful display of style and imagination.

What Simons presented was an exquisite hybrid of femininity and minimalistic dressing, true to the recently proclaimed ‘silent revolution’ that British Vogue is bringing to center-stage. Traditional aspects of Dior’s ‘New Look’ were potent as ever, using the peplum, the classically cut jacket, bustier and excessive volume in the skirts. But this was feminine dressing on a different tangent from it’s predecessors; sophisticated and restrained, in a way that was more elegant than androgynous. An unusually but complimentary blend of colour stood out the most, with black, light blue, blood orange and aubergine, bringing attention to the large skirts and nipped waist-jackets, that flattered the body in the same brilliant way they did in 1947. To finish the simpler ensembles were the classic pointed stiletto shapes but with a coloured tip, in pastel shades of pink and blue.

Interestingly, attention to detail wasn’t ostracised, despite the fact that cut and colour were a primary focus. Brightly shades of red and yellow made up small segments of embroidered flowers, but shying away from the traditional prints when nature is a creative influence. Abstractly cut shapes at the waist and slits from the skirt hems were lined in chiffon or organza and finished with embroidered flowers in bright shades of red, orange and yellow. The flowers were patiently placed across the sections and scattered across nude-coloured gloves, in a restrained effort to enhance but not overpower the design. One pieces that stood out was a beautifully embroidered top, with white silk straps that eventually wrapped around the torso, a dramatic but elegant piece worn with simple cigarette trousers. Simons has developed a new and fantastic signature look of developing couture to a degree in which it is both beautiful but also wearable; extravagant as these clothes are, they aren’t intimidating in the slightest, creating the glorious yet unobtainable dream of wearing the designs on an every-day basis. Whilst it may not be a reality for most, it’s encouraging to see how couture is developing a more personal dimension as trends change.

The surrounding pieces of eveningwear paved the way for the forthcoming highlights of the award season. Floor length gowns with ballroom and bias-cut skirts walked before modern cocktail-dresses with tiny bolero jackets, all in bold shades of red, blue and black with softer pinks and dusty shades of white. The skirts were in addition styled on various designs based upon black surfaces and winding stripes. Some of the cocktail dresses were shaped into the bud of a new bloom itself, embellished with hundreds of flowers in various sizes; a fantastic reinvention of the tulip dress.

The youth and beauty that spring captivates, both in our dressing and in our attitudes was more prominent than ever at Dior. Simons continually strives to preserves what was given to him, but without leaving the essential personalised mark, to put his name to the house itself. Dior has always encompassed progression and embraced the changing influences in how women dress and considering the fact that this is Simons’ second collection in a fast-pace industry, it really is a thing of beauty. All that remains is the hot anticipation for his Ready-To-Wear designs.

Rosie Feenstra

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