Embracing yet going beyond the futuristic metropolis, to the fantasy and reality of the sprawling city of style that is Tokyo. In the Esprit Dior Tokyo 2015 Collection, Raf Simons, Artistic Director of Christian Dior, has the West meet the East and takes inspiration from the extreme confluence and contrast of competing styles found in the capital of Japan.
“Tokyo is a place that has been and is so constantly inspiring to me,” says Raf Simons. “Particularly in terms of the liberty people take for themselves in how they dress, there is nowhere else like it; the freedom of styles, the new architecture of clothing that you can see forming in the street as well as in city’s fashion design history… It’s a place that is both extreme and exhilarating.”
A new kind of ‘Floating World’ is evoked in the collection; a place of leisure and pleasure mixed with the practical and the everyday, forming a new type of ‘utilitarian glamour’ for Dior. Here, an extreme contrast of styles is embraced and formed into single and singular silhouettes where fantasy and reality coexist. The contrast of matte and shine, evening and day, a subdued and masculine colour palette placed alongside bold primaries, the practical and rough hewn mixed with the hyper-luxurious and refined, all are defining features of the collection. The paillette is a constant contrasting motif, applied to and covering fine knits. Here, the paillette knits frequently mimic their traditional, utilitarian counterparts such as the cable, Aran and Fair Isle, now flattened and made into high-shine patterns. Or they feature as a glinting form of layered undergarment and polo neck, placed under more utilitarian and everyday fabrications such as thick wools, washed leathers and coated cottons.
The architecture of the Bar is invoked as a foundation for the collection, yet is taken away from any of its lady-like connotations. Here, its curvilinear structure is made more angular, graphic and Manga-like. Worked in utilitarian fabrics such as wax coated cottons or traditional English wools and applied to garments with more masculine connotations, such as a spin on the traditional duffle, the Bar becomes part of a new practical language in the collection. The Lady Dior bag also becomes part of this subverted language of the classic. Blown up to giant, practical proportions or made tiny and more decorative with thick straps, this classic now fully embraces the connotations of kawaii.
“In Tokyo I think of the sliding together of things that are glamorous, of the urban environment as well as of the outdoors,” explains Raf Simons. “This contrast goes to make iconic women in iconic silhouettes and idea of projecting into the future.”
Discover the 'Esprit Dior Tokyo 2015' runway show at the end of this post!
Simons, however, is a designer more inclined to take cues from the future than the past, and finding ways to move the codes of the house forward has been his central mission. This season he used the Bar jacket as a vehicle, reconfiguring those classic ladylike proportions to move within the parameters of a modern working wardrobe. “I’ve really wanted to bring a sense of reality to the house since I started,” he said. “And with this collection I wanted to push that idea even further.” With gently nip-waisted coats cut from waxed cotton, rubberized floral jacquard, washed leather, and replete with utilitarian patch pockets and heavy-duty zippers, the cool New Look seemed to step off straight the red carpet and into the great outdoors. Simons has a knack for fusing masculine and feminine ends of the fashion spectrum, and one toggle coat with brushed wool grid check looked like it was swiped from an English gent’s mid-century wardrobe and filtered through a curvilinear twenty-first-century lens. If there was any passing reference to Japanese culture, it was in the architectural stiletto platform boots and sculpted jacquard knit dresses that hinted at a super-charged manga silhouette.
In fact, it was with knitwear that Simons really pushed his functional impulses into fresh new territory. Subverting the line between day and evening wear entirely, each of the looks came layered with a dazzling sequined turtleneck; some were embellished to mimic the pattern of a fisherman’s sweater, while other cable-knit pieces were encrusted with paillettes one standout Fair Isle sweater dress glittered in shades of yellow, green, and silver. As Simons continues to broaden the appeal of the brand on a global stage, it’s clothes like these that stylish city dwellers the world over will surely fight for.
Dior's creative director Raf Simons
Selections by ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories
Photo Credit/Source: The House of DIOR
Candids: Photos by Taylor Jewell
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Two women in Bar suits, two architectural silhouettes designed by Raf Simons welcomed visitors to the Esprit Dior exhibition in Tokyo on 30 October, 2014 which runs until 4 January 2015. This photograph by Patrick Demarchelier is the first in a long series being unveiled for the first time in Japan and in the book Dior New Couture Patrick Demarchelier.