This year’s Christian Dior Resort show took place in the spectacular Le Palais Bulles (Bubble Palace), the sprawling futuristic structure of terra-cotta bubbles set into the cliffside halfway between Cannes and Monaco. The atmosphere was utterly appropriate for the look of the collection, which was distinctly architectural, youthfully flirty and playfully futuristic.
It’s a good selection of vacation staples, with straightforward summer fare being seen in the array of sleek tennis dresses, cropped sailor pants, straight minishirts, Lurex-striped tunics, flirty cocktail dresses and skimpy knit rompers. There were knitted vests, net blouses, swingy kilts, pleated gingham shorts and slinky handkerchief-hemmed dance dresses. Gorgeous evening wear was shown with an outstanding trio of bias-cut gowns which were stunning for their elegant simplicity.
Dior heritage was evoked in varying degrees throughout the show: pointed Marie Antionette-esque footwear harkened back to Roger Vivier’s work, while the femme fleur silhouette was superbly done in shimmering crystal-strewn florals and net overdresses that restrained pleated underskirts. Through this manipulation, Mr. Simmons was able to recreate Dior’s classic feminine shape minus the restrictions of the uncomfortable hosiery and underpinnings employed by the original master.
The Bar jacket returned in simplified form, this season’s incarnation being almost sculptural, with minimalistic curving sleeves and pleated peplum waists. Mr. Simons said he updated Dior’s iconic architectural shapes by employing loads of mesh fabrics, tight pleats and homespun detailing, and by defusing the formality of the Bar by pairing its distinctive shape with shorts, miniskirts and flip-flops. “I will always go back,” Mr. Simons insisted. “I don’t think that by going back I make it less mine.”
It’s clear that comfort and ease of wear were front and center on Mr. Simons’ mind when he designed this collection, as everything from accessories (hobo bags, booties, embroidered leather satchels and flip-flops) to the runway styling was imbued with a sunny, vacation- ready sensibility. He’s described this work as being intended for “players and adventurers,” basically today’s “it girls”- luxe globetrotting women who live for jaunty escapades.
This collection spoke volumes about where Mr. Simons sits with Dior right now and the playfulness broadcasts his confidence and familiarity in his position as head. He’s described this collection as being, “Playful, sweet… childish, almost,” and it’s clear that he wanted to do something fresh with this show. “We tried to make it very, very light, and much younger, and therefore also more futurist and modernist,” adding, “…we always need to show new products, and Dior can do that sometimes.”
It’s wildly different to the House’s iconic past, but never forget that this is Maison Dior- the originator of the “New Look”.
Truthfully, I have mixed thoughts. Over the past few seasons, we’ve seen a number of surprising additions trot onto the Dior catwalks amongst the usual runway fare: slinky camisole blouses, slouchy trousers, catsuits, rompers, t-shirt patterned tunics, plastic raincoats, shift dresses made of unlined net. It’s made for interesting shows and I’ll admit that I’ve appreciated seeing Raf Simons’ influence on the changing image of Maison Dior, but that doesn’t mean I’m entirely happy with it. To me, Dior no longer looks spectacular… there haven’t been any truly standout pieces to be seen within the past few collections. For a House that helped build global Haute Couture awareness and made pieces that could sparkle across a crowded room, I think its becoming too normal.
Raf Simons’ work has gradually softened the House’s image into something more youthful, more rock-ready, vibrant and party-girl appropriate- which is great, but not all the time. Up to now, the offerings still had the stamp of a maybe more approachable Dior, but with this show I’m worried that Mr. Simons has turned to the normcore trend and to me that would be a true pity.
Basically, had this collection been released by any other design house, I would love it all. But this is Dior and as a brand supportive, third generation consumer, I expect much more from the house than this.
However, this 2016 Resort collection is a much stronger production than the 2015 Spring Couture and Fall shows in terms of the design consistency and wearability. It may possibly be setting the scene for better things to come (I hope)! I can see newcomers to the brand falling in love with this collection as there are separates galore and the ability to mix and match items is impressive. Personally, the only things I truly like are those plain evening shifts- and they remind me of Alexander Wang.
They say change is good, but in this aspect, I’m not sure if the changing look of Maison Dior is doing anyone any favours- it’s too much too soon and it’s turning many traditional brand lovers off. Maybe this new look is bringing in customers with a different mindset, but as one of the young consumers that these clothes are marketed toward, I’m not impressed. I can get clothing like this anywhere else… when I turn to Dior, I want Dior. Classic, ladylike, gorgeous.
Maybe next season I’ll be better pleased.
What do you think?
xx – Ana