Guests arriving to Raf Simons’ Dior show on Friday entered through a mountain of blue delphiniums, sprung as if by magic in the urban courtyard of the Carré du Louvre. Once inside, “natural” met modern as the mountain opened into a sleek, white expanse of a space, all high-shine floor and tented ceiling. It made for a serene dichotomy, one sprung from the designer’s reflective mood.
“In the context of everything that’s happening right now, I’m questioning a lot. I feel a lot of people are questioning,” Simons said backstage, referring to the now palpable sense that the show system has reached a volatile tipping point. While 10 minutes to showtime was hardly the moment for in-depth musing on a major issue, Simons explained that fashion’s frenetic spinning impacted his approach to spring. “I feel like doing something calm, calm and beautiful and sensitive and romantic,” he said.
None of which precludes currency, which in recent seasons has meant transporting specific elements from the past into a modernist contest. Here, Simons nudged that notion further with a deftness fascinating to watch as he negotiated his way around potential saccharine pratfalls to a place of gentle chic.
Peter Weir’s “Picnic at Hanging Rock” inspired the girlish, slightly other-worldly beauty. Victorian undies de-bloomered into scalloped cotton tops and shorts that formed a pristine foundation throughout the lineup showed through the pastel transparency of striped organdy dresses, some with poetic lantern sleeves.
Yet there’s a certain purity of purpose in acknowledging the necessity of clothes of everyday life, for women to wear and a house to sell. Thus, the skivvies were also underpinnings for reimagined Bar jackets, perfect tailoring softened by borders of fluid pleats, as well as low-key suitings and a strong showing of outerwear, from proper toppers to thrown-on parkas, one with a flourish of 3-D flowers.
Did Simons set a new agenda? Not fashion-wise. But his embrace of visual calm as an antidote to the surrounding chaos felt right. And he did so with lovely clothes.