Nature and urbanity — a natural juxtaposition of the Dior woman. For fall, Raf Simons wanted to explore her more sexual side by taking her natural urges out of the garden, to a place where more primal instincts dominate: the animal world. Backstage before the show, he noted that Christian Dior had an early moment with animal prints, though why Simons felt it necessary to make that point, who knows? He has more than proven his fealty to the house codes; if he wants to go sexy for a season, he needn’t seek archival permission from a founder nearly 60 years dead, who probably doesn’t much care anymore, anyway.
In truth, the show’s sexual content proved more discreet than Simons’ conversation would suggest; he opened with a pair of short black cutaway dresses with colorful facings, pointy metal mesh collars hinting at aggression. Both were worn with second-skin Lucite-heel boots in a blown-up, blue-and-red animal pattern. Such abstracted skin motifs would prove a recurring theme, two or three thick, wavy stripes undulating across a coat or making a splash on a swingy minidress, and, several times, on flashy bodysuits of the type Simons showed during couture. While these made for a couple of colorful Catwoman moments, more often they formed the underpinnings for Simons’ impressive lineup of coats.
Tweeds from his collaboration with the fabric firm Kvadrat and other substantive materials, including multitone pastel furs, were gorgeous and a core of the collection. As Simons sees it, a woman in touch with her masculine side is sexy. He dressed her with chic authority in pantsuits with trim, double-breasted jackets over slim cropped pants. More generously cut shapes (Wall Street boyfriend jackets, he called them) were less successful, although that might have been due to the staging. Given the circuitous configuration of the set, many guests got a mostly side view of the clothes, and from that angle, the bigger coats and jackets read more ill-fitting than oversized.
Still, this collection featured many beautiful clothes, and Simons engaged in deft experimentation within a commercial context. Case in point: a bonded leather mesh he developed in two-tone combinations that hugged the body differently at various curves. “Almost,” he said, “like movable snakeskin.” Read: sexy and seductive.