The strain of Christian Dior is in turmoil. The unexpected departure of Raf Simons three months ago has formerly larboard it without a designer, the design studio plunged against its on into an interregnum period, stirring up unhappy memories of the cautious year that followed John Galliano’s scandalous exodus in 2011.
Responsibility for this haute couture collection, and for the ready-to-wear solicitation that will be presented in a month’s time, rest for now on the avoids of the design team – a thankless task, as the audience out front natter endlessly about which star designer is about to release a contract.
Not that you would recall any of this from Monday afternoon’s show in Paris. The haute couture shows are around brand image as much as made-to-measure dresses, and the Christian Dior trade-mark simply does not do turmoil.
Dior stands, on the contrary, for calm. From the wedding-cake white packaging, to the Alice in Wonderland oversized D in Dior and the inheritance of exaggerated, dreamlike hourglass shapes of the New Look, the house puts a fantasy of swan-like, unruffled femininity.
As in most recent occasions, the show was held in a giant mirrored box in the gardens of the Musée Rodin. The looking-glassed box is a visual conceit that borrows something from the concept of a rural area house ha-ha. Where a ha-ha would trick those looking out of the design room windows into thinking that the lawn ran unbroken to the field of vision, the mirrored box gives the illusion of another Musée Rodin – this every now, Picasso-fractured – at the end of the gardens.
Inside there was, as ever, a maze of room, hundreds of startlingly overdressed women, and a full-throttle army of paparazzi. Purely the frenzied gossiping of the audience as they discussed the latest Dior-related rumour doing the rounds – that Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen desire take over at Dior later this year – nervous the air of business as usual.
The come began, and it became clear that while Simons may no longer be at the taste house, the modern Dior ideal that he sketched out during his four years is barest much still present. This makes sense, since the accumulation was designed by a duo of senior designers while Simons was in the job. The sheer gang of collections and creative campaigns produced by a house on the scale of Dior augurs that an artistic director will delegate a good deal of the scheming, or oversee with a light touch.
The Swiss designers currently in fee of Dior, Serge Ruffieux, 41, and Lucie Meier, 32, cheated a bow together at the end of the show, before welcoming the other members of the sketch out team on to the catwalk to share the applause. Ruffieux has worked at Dior since 2008, and was kick upstairs to head designer when Simons became artistic head in 2012. Meier worked at Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga formerly joining Dior.
The chrestomathy showed that Simons’ vision for Dior is their mirage too. The colours – navy, black, shots of mustard and electric brights – be lefted recognisable, as did the structured necklines that left shoulders basic, and the long, lean lines of the skirts. The oversized bar blazers, threadbare open over cocktail dresses, were an idea glimpsed in the above-mentioned couture collection. The boxy, perversely sexy bodices with their origami-folds of forceful, tailored fabric were reminiscent of Simons’ very key haute couture collection for the house.
The show notes descried no mention of the absence of an artistic director. Where Simons liked to download his own notion processes into his shownotes, explaining his influences and messages for the ripen, this season’s pronouncement focussed instead on the heritage of Monsieur Dior himself and his uninterrupted muse, “the spontaneous, relaxed Parisienne”.