Dior RTW Spring 2014

Much of the show celebrated the Femme Fleur, and Raf Simons kept his silhouettes lean and ladified, with subtle hints of the Fifties.

Miles of hanging wisteria, roses, vines and branches created a dense, mysterious wonderland. Some of the flora was real and some fake, painted in intensified variations of nature’s own hues. The effect was enchanting and a bit surreal, a foreshadowing of a transition from one state to another, the viewer not always able to distinguish definitively between the two.

In his third season at the creative helm of Dior, Raf Simons wants to temper the reverence, and start imposing his own ethos on the house more flagrantly.

“It’s that DNA that I’m very attracted to myself, like nature and some flowers, everything we know so well from the brand,” he said before the show. “It’s challenging to see how I can deal with those elements that we all think about when we think about Dior, but also twisting them around seriously.”

Twisting the codes means infusing them with modernity. As powerful as the vision of the house founder was, as hallowed his name and legacy are, and with every respect given his impact on fashion, some of the core elements of his aesthetic don’t radiate 21st century.

Simons took aim from the start, slicing the Bar jacket at the waist over vibrant silk floral shorts. One could argue that a hipless Bar jacket is a Bar no longer, but so what? The effect was current rather than retro, and accomplishing that transition is an essential part of Simons’ mandate.

Which is not to say Simons has gone rogue iconoclast, at least not yet. Much of the show celebrated the Femme Fleur, and he kept his silhouettes lean and ladyfied, with subtle hints of the Fifties.

Where he broke away most effectively was in details of cut. He reconfigured a ballgown into a short, multistrip lantern skirt, and finished a sexy striped shirtdress with a provocative knot in back. Sometimes his decorative urges resulted in complicated insets and layering that felt unresolved. While there was nothing casual about the lineup, light, roomy sweaters offered an alternative to the more fitted lines that prevailed.

Simons focused mostly on daywear — often accessorized with a new, smart version of the Lady Dior bag in cutout leather — until the finale, for which the models all changed into either black tailored looks or short evening dresses. Rendered in silvery metallic floral jacquards, these intentionally familiar silhouettes were intended as a definitive, sparkling move into the future.

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