Talk about drama. Given Dior’s yearlong hunt to fill the role of creative director, the scandal that had opened the position in the first place and Raf Simons’ blockbuster finale for Jil Sander punctuating what was, in effect, his unceremonious, bizarre firing, the designer’s Dior show on Friday afternoon would prove the most eagerly awaited ready-to-wear debut at a major house in years.
Well worth every drop of anticipation and every second of the wait, Simons blew past expectations. In 14 dazzling minutes (albeit with lots of intense work prior), he thrust Dior into a place it hasn’t been in some time, a place where clothes count as more than glossy foils around which to explode cash-cow accessories and beauty businesses. This collection pulsed with that Holy-Grail fusion of currency and cool.
It’s difficult to imagine Simons’ emotions during the prelude to the big event. If at all unnerved, he gave no indication in a preshow conversation with WWD. Unlike his open, bright white front-of-house, Simons’ private salon backstage was tented in black and fitted with a dark sofa and a pair of chairs. Calm but animated, the designer was open about his thought process coming into Dior and declared his exit from Sander “so out of my system.” He also took issue with past characteristics of himself as a minimalist.
“Everyone thought I was a minimalist,” Simons noted of his tenure at Sander. “I love minimalism. There will often be that kind of aesthetic; that kind of concept will be very often a part of my world. But it’s not the only thing that I’m interested in.”
He would soon illustrate that point in a collection that established Dior’s new baseline: controlled but decorative, feminine, sensual. And, to use his word, “liberating,” a concept he insisted was first brought to the house by its founder.
While by today’s standards the New Look hardly seems liberating, Simons begged to differ. “Mr. Christian Dior was giving a reaction to the aesthetic of the moment, which was a restrictive aesthetic,” he argued. “He brought fantasy again, and the whole idea about sensuality and the female body. And [the focus on] the waist, and the hip and the breast. It was a way of freeing up from a certain kind of restriction.”
Simons wants to wave the freedom flag as well. While he considers the current rush of minimalism often attractive and “probably necessary,” he identified a lack of forward motion resulting in too-familiar clothes and a mundane dilution of the original concept. “Why does it look so related to what it was in the Nineties? That’s my question. Why is it so much white cotton shirting [buttoned] up to the neck? And why do I not see sex, and why do I not see fun in that world, and why do I not see movement in that world? And why do I not see the female body in that world? I think it’s interesting to bring part [of minimalism] into the world of Dior, but I also want to make it very sensual and sexual and very free. Liberated is probably the most important message.”
In the lead-up to this show, Simons immersed himself in the house archives and pondered how to best achieve such integration. In fact, he had a considerable head start. Beginning with his “couture” collection for Sander several seasons ago, he had begun to incorporate more obvious flourish into his work. For Dior, he liked the notion of a futuristic spin, not only in the expected (from him) intellectual sense of constant forward projection, but in the more playful fashion sense, through a Sixties lens.
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
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“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye