Yesterday I was so excited to attend an afternoon screening of the highly anticipated documentary DIOR AND I downtown at the Film Forum. It is the latest offering from director/writer/producer Frédéric Tcheng who is known from his work on other great fashion based films. The movie covers an integral time of the famous French fashion house Christian Dior as they announced the appointment of their new Creative Director, Raf Simons. The timing of Simons' appointment meant that he would have only 8 weeks to put together an entire haute couture collection, an undertaking that normally takes 4 to 6 months. Haute couture is a very serious thing, not to be taken lightly. The documentary provides an in depth behind the scenes look at the Belgian designer's artistic process, the business, and supplies plenty of humorous commentary from the dressmakers. I have been waiting impatiently for this film to debut for some time and thankfully, I was not disappointed.
As the film begins, I notice that Simons appears a bit shy and introverted. The stress of the responsibility is clearly seen and he is often shown with a pained look upon his face. The extremely shortened timeline would have been a logistical nightmare for anyone and the worry quickly spreads through the entire house. Through this time, Simons stands strong in his conviction to create and translate his ideas into wearable garments. However, it's important to note that producing collections of this magnitude is a group effort. He challenged an army of assistants, seamstresses, tailors, directors, and designers to come together to create art. You watch in suspense as the team labors through a period of adjustment, not unlike the arrival of a new baby to a family, but the end result is spectacular.
Simons himself has largely been associated with a minimalist esthetic, mostly due to his background in menswear and his time at Jil Sander. Many felt he was an unlikely candidate to take on couture, especially at Christian Dior, a design house known for extreme femininity. The fashion world was skeptical as was I. The Belgian designer's previous offerings seemed to be in direct contrast to the legacy of Dior. Interestingly during the film, we learn that although he does minimalism very well, the designer doesn't consider himself to be a minimalist. Who knew?
DIOR AND I culminates with a no expense spared floral extravaganza and in the end, Simons is overcome with emotion the day of the show. I think it's notable to mention how many other big name designers were in attendance for his debut show. Simons was shown an overwhelming amount of support and with the 2012 presentation he made a grand entrance into haute couture. If anyone had any doubts about Simons' ability to tackle couture, they certainly don't now. Raf Simons has proven himself to be skilled and very much capable. I strongly believe that the future of Dior is in very good hands.