Tuesday 15 January 2013

Set Amid a Million Flowers, Raf Simon's First Collection for Dior

Belgian designer Raf Simon's first collection for Christian Dior was launched in Paris at a beautiful house near the Arc de Triomphe, reports Jeanne-Marie Cilento

THE salons where the designer held his show were layered in fresh flowers - like a living 3D wall-paper - each room with it's own type of bloom. Guests stepped through archways of roses, delphiniums and white orchids into more rooms covered in bushy green branches and brightly-colored flowers ~ the designer said the blooms were a "metaphor for the collection".

Raf Simon is well known for his minimalist architectural style and he looked back to Christian Dior's 1947 New Look to find inspiration for his first show. While he eschewed the original's decorative femininity, he took Dior's structured bustiers and full-skirts and created a stripped-back modern version in vibrant hues.

Influenced by contemporary art, Raf Simons chose paintings by American artist Sterling Ruby as motifs for some of his three-quarter length cocktail dresses. The soigné modern look of the models was enhanced by lightly-dusted fluorescent eyes, red lips and flowing, long hair. 

The make-up inspired by the Futurists, had eyelids in shimmering silver with a bright stroke of color along the lash line – in hot pink, lagoon blue, pearly white or prairie green - stretching toward the temple. The fluorescents echoed the bold colors of the clothes. Faces were pale and matte, only the cheekbones stood out with a rosy blush. The lips' vivid color in orangey reds and pinks had a touch of different color on the centre of the lip.

"My aim is a very Modern Dior", said Simons about the collection, "but I also look back to mid-century modernism. I find that period between 1947 and 1957 extremely attractive and there was a lot of modernity. Although there was the romantic appeal of Christian Dior looking back to his mother and the belle époque, there was also a constant evolution in shape, changing proportions and the ideas connected to the World War were revolutionary."

Dior was 15 months without an official designer before Simon was appointed artistic director three months ago after the ignominious exit from the fashion house of John Galliano. Simon was originally a highly-trained furniture and industrial designer in Belgium before he decided to enter the world of fashion. He first started his own menswear label as well as lecturing at university about fashion before becoming artistic director at Jil Sander and then being appointed to Dior.

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