The cloudy blue skies underfoot and the giant silver clouds above signaled a Magritte moment at Raf Simons’s gently surrealist and quirkily personal Dior show one infused with the spirit of Pop, too. As he grows in assurance at the house, Simons seems to be having more fun with its codes, and here, amongst the modernist reworkings of some iconic Christian Dior mid-century designs, he introduced a softer side and a silhouette that seemed more 1920s than 50s. This unfitted flapper line harked back to Dior’s own career as an art gallerist in the Jazz Age, and his engagement with the Surrealists he was one of the first to show Dalí and Giacometti.
A collaboration with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts resulted in dresses and clutch purses printed with Warhol’s charming late fifties and very early sixties paintings of fashions and shoes, the precursors to his Pop work, produced when he was a commercial artist working for magazines and advertising accounts. A Warhol face printed on the filmy bodice of a chiffon dress, or a shoe on a clutch, were surprising and intriguing touches.
The playful invention continued in the reworking of iconic Dior clothing. The classic Bar suit was made this season in wool that mimicked denim, or worn with wide-leg Oxford bags; a short, full-skirted satin evening dress from 1949 with a bustle back like scudding clouds was reimagined in malleably fine black leather, and a strapless ballet-length dress was embroidered in black leather blossoms on dark net Dior’s 1949 version was in conventionally pretty pastel silks. A dashing scarlet wool coat with a highwayman’s collar was a more literal homage, but Dior’s love of dramatic, asymmetric draperies was taken in a contemporary direction with hemlines sliced on the diagonal.
That surrealist motif was subtly explored in the inventive knits worked into a ruffled peplum or a sideswept bow loop to ape the exaggerated silhouettes immortalized by the fashion illustrator René Gruau or woven loosely enough to flash the signature houndstooth check beneath. That sense of reveal was also explored in keyhole openings, or a deep U-shaped neckline that framed a contrast-colored garment underneath.
Most quirky and inventive were what Simons dubbed his “memory dresses” fragile chiffon flapper gowns scattered with embroidery of seemingly random but symbolic objects an eighteenth-century ring painted with an eye; keyholes; or a rainfall of eyelashes. Magritte, Simons’s fellow Belgian, would have been proud.
Selections by ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories
Photo Credit/Source: The House of DIOR
Runway: Photography by Monica Feudi / FeudiGuaineri
Details: Photography by Gianni Pucci / InDigitalTeam / GoRunway
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