Christian Dior

Bidding a peaceful adieu

BREAKING NEWS: Earlier today, Raf Simons hands in his resignation as Creative Director of Christian Dior

When you hear this news, multiple questions flood the mind; ‘What drove Simons to make such a rash decision?’ , ‘Who could possibly be the successor?’ & ‘How would this affect the future of fashion?’ Could it have been the stress that Raf just couldn’t handle or was it due to company relationships?

Raf Simons

Sourced photograph: David Sims/guardian.co.uk

Some suggest his move to focus on his own label, whilst others suggest he just couldn’t handle the pressure. Due to what was stated in an interview conducted by Cathy Horyn for System Magazine, Simons discusses that he doesn’t have the physical time to allow for his creative flow he that he so eagerly craves.

“When you do six shows a year, there’s not enough time for the whole process. Technically, yes — the people who make the samples, do the stitching, they can do it. But you have no incubation time for ideas, and incubation time is very important. When you try an idea, you look at it and think, Hmm, let’s put it away for a week and think about it later. But that’s never possible when you have only one team working on all the collections.” – Raf Simons

A quick history: Raf Simons, born 12 January 1968, began his creative career with an education in furniture design and later in 1995, established his own menswear label. June 2005 Simons was appointed creative director of J.Sander, where, in my opinion, is where his creative flow really took growth. After the dismissal of Galliano in his role of creative director at Christian Dior, Simons was quickly appointed as his successor (Womenswear only). He kept to the traditional elements of the brand whilst simaltaneously allowing popular culture and modern society to ever so slightly influence his creations.

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While only designing for Dior of just three and a half years, Raf Simons has not gone unnoticed.

.The classic silhouette (originated from Dior’s 1947 collection ‘New Look’) with a modern twist:

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Jennifer Lawrence at the Oscars 2013. Wore a couture Dior gown. The Classic silhouette of the small waist and wide hip was honoured by Raf in is designs. The modern twist is apparent in the layering of the trail and tight fitting derrière, a modern day phenomenon, which creates a sight of feminism and sexuality, something which the public lust over – especially in todays society where celebrities are considered ‘role models’.

. Groundbreaking accessory designs 

From previous education in furniture design, Simons designs jewellery and shoes as if they were furniture for the body.

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From Left to Right: 1.RTW.FW13/Pascal Le Segretain-Getty Images 2. RTW.SS14/Agence France-Presse -Getty Images. 3. RTW.FW13/vogue.co.uk

Very structural and captivating. Simons manages to incorporate modern technologies and use of materials to design structural and futuristic accessories. By juxtaposing futuristic designs with classic silhouettes enables Simons to let the brand grow.

So what is next?

Raf’s statement of resignation holds a few indicators:

 “It is a decision based entirely and equally on my desire to focus on other interests in my life, including my own brand, and the passions that drive me outside my work. Christian Dior is an extraordinary company, and it has been an immense privilege to write a few pages of this magnificent book”

Although Raf Simons designs may hint towards the future, he does not hold facts of the future. The future of the brand, its next creative director and Simons next move is ambiguous to all. But what would the fashion industry be without a little mystery and excitement?

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Dior Impressions

Impressionism was an art movement in the nineteenth century. By painting en plain air, gave the artists the freedom to paint exactly from the scene, providing the idea that the world around them is rapidly changing, consequently contributing to the impasto painting technique. Many artists were inspired by impressionism, thus giving further influence to other designers.

Impressionism emphasises on an accurate depiction of light, nature and its changing qualities, accordingly giving Christian Dior inspiration for many of his designs, especially his Haute Couture spring/summer 1953 collection, named ‘Ligne Tulipe’.
The bunches of wildflowers Christian Dior evoked in his S/S 1953 collection -(figure 1) inspired Raf Simons, who reinterpreted them in his first two haute couture collections (A/W 12 and S/S 13) – ( figure 2). Both collections relate back to Manet’s painting ‘Poppies’, 1873 – (figure 3).

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Figure 1 (right). Figure 2 (left).

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Figure 3. Manet’s painting ‘Poppies’, 1873.

“ After woman, flowers are the most lovely thing God has given the world” Christian Dior. 1954.

Christian Dior, attempts to incorporate women and flowers in the same sphere of existence. Due to doing this, beauty is established through the picturesque qualities of nature reflecting on the woman herself. The colours, prints and embroideries of the 1953 collection, evoke the impressionist landscapes and fields of flowers dear to Renoir and Van Gogh.

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Figure 4. Christian Dior, 1953

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Figure 5. Black tulip dress. Christian Dior. 1953

The complimentary neck line within the collection “Ligne Tulipe”, frames the neck and shoulders leaving the face as the focal part of the body, suggesting the face is, the flower and therefore the beauty within this impressionist inspired line. The Dior silhouette, takes form of the tulip, then curves down into a tiny waist line and stem-straight skirt – (figure 4).

Symbolic to the tulip, the flower is a representation of elegance and grace, much like the depiction of women in which Christian Dior wanted to convey. Christian Dior then began to reverse the flower, where the design would flower out at the feet making an inverted tulip form – (figure 5 ).

This impressionist inspired design also influenced other collections. Dior’s A/W 11 collection by John Galliano (figure 6) is a clear example. The materials that the garments are made from allow the movement and fluidity that is required from the impressionism movement, as if the collection has been designed to be ‘en plain aire’.

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Figure 6. Dior’s A/W 11 collection by John Galliano

1953 satin and silk dress

Figure 7. Christian Dior. Autumn/Winter’54

This gold silk garment (Dior A/W 54) exploits the material as it reflects the surroundings, giving the dress a sense of ever changing movement, resulting in the impressionist ideas coming to life. The collar of this dress is also symbolic of the tulip flower as it frames the face to contain the beauty within – (figure 7)

Christian Dior’s classic silhouette, where the waist is narrow and the bust and hips are wide and full, is still present within modern fashion – (figure 8 ). This strapless white garment with a gauzy white skirt is strongly influenced by the impressionist painting by Degas’ ‘The Ballet Class” painted in 1871 – (figure 9)

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Figure 9. Degas, “The Ballet Class” 1971

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Figure 8. Sarah Jessica Parker wearing Dior in 2012.

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Dior constantly references the art movement, impressionism within his brand. Through the use go his A/W’13 campaign gives a strong link to “lunch on the grass” by Edouard Manet (1863).

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Christian Dior (left) poses his garden. Claude Monet (right) stands beside his pond of water lilies. These photographs reveal the similarities in mind and beauty within both of their designs.

Christian Dior is such an influential designer that due to his intense relationship with impressionism, many other designers create designs based around this art movement. The colour white appears frequently in this particular art movement, as it references light and movement. White is evident in multiple collections within the Spring/Summer’15 fashion weeks, concluding that an ‘all  white’ trend has stemmed of impressionism.

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Christian Dior. Trend: Find the future in the past

Christian Dior’s Spring/Summer’15 collection was a continuation of his previous couture show in which he associated historical clothing with a twenty-first century twist. Raf Simons describes that he was “interested in the process of finding something extremely modern through something very historical” which is evident to see he succeeded in.

“It was an idea of confronting what people now think is an aesthetic that is modern – it felt more modern to go to the far past, not the ‘modernised’ look of the last decade” – Raf Simons.

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The traditional ‘Robe a la Française’ and Raf Simon’s reinterpretaton in the Spring/Summer’15 collection

By modernising eighteen century clothing allows the collection to be more accessible to a wider audience than Raf Simons’ previous couture collection, although they had the same notion. Bodices became skirts and jackets converted into blouses to give the formality an additional contemporary feel. Raf Simons took the traditional Robe a la Française, and created a cotton bodice to further modernised historical dress, providing a practical, yet traditional garment, whilst simultaneously keeping the eighteenth century inspired print.

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Flight Suit a la Français

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Christian Dior by Raf Simons. Spring/Summer’15

Similarly, the ‘Flight Suit a la Français’ uniform from the eighteenth century was refashioned by removing heavy masculine material (washed silk satins and thick calf leather) to light velvet and silks to give a feminine authority amongst the clothing. The coats became minimalistic versions of their former selves with a modicum of embroidered embellishments.The models wore the ‘Court coats’ of the eighteenth century with white skater’s shorts which consequently in turn contributed the historical modern look.

Due to Raf Simons starting this trend in his previous Haute couture collection and continuing the process to the ‘ready-to-wear’ allows the assumption of the ‘Trickle Down’ theory, where couture and expensive garnets influence ready to wear and furthermore high street collections.

Christian Dior was a large supporter of femininity, yet within the eighteenth century, females did not have rights which is so vital to be a female in the modern context. The twenty-first century debate is largely on the topic of feminism, (highlighted by Emma Watson’s speech for the United Nations ‘HeForShe’ campaign, which has brought this topic in to the public’s eye) thus, by clashing together authoritative uniforms of the eighteenth century and reconstructed them to a feminine yet practical design allows the link to be made for authority females within the twenty-first century. Chanel’s Spring/Summer’15 collection also highlights this campaign where the models protested down the catwalk, leaving a large statement within this area of conversation.

“White is pure and simple and matches with everything”
Christian Dior

Keeping to the trend of minimalism, Christian Dior’s collection largely contains clothing of pure white, where the focal point can remain on the cut rather than having a destruction on the print.

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All White. Christian Dior by Raf Simons. Spring/Summer’15

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All white. Christian Dior by Raf Simons. Spring/Summer’15

This was evident in many Paris Fashion Week collections, where white minimalism is key, such as the Celine and Anya Hindmarch’s collections.

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All white. Celine. Spring/Summer’15

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All White. Ayna Hindmarch. Spring/Summer’15

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Christian Dior – The ‘New look’ to the S/S’15 Collection

“A dress is a piece of ephemeral architecture, designed to enhance the portions of the female body.” Christian Dior.

Christian Dior, Bar Suit. 1947

Figure 1. Christian Dior, Bar Suit. 1947

Christian Dior, from his start collections in 1947 to Christian Dior by Raf Simons collections in the more recent years, all embody the shape and movement of the female body. By embracing and harmonising the shape of the feminine body allows the silhouette to encompass a clear cut ‘classic beauty’ for the body, where the waist is narrow and bust and hips are wide, allowing to conform to the ‘perfect partitions of the idealistic body, dating back to Vitruvius’ ideas from 1st century BC. Christian Dior’s first ground breaking collection in 1947, titled “New Look”- (Figure 1) enabled women to “return to the idea of civilised happiness”(Christian Dior). Due to the war ending in 1945, Dior unequivocally turned the views of rationing, uniforms and restriction to a dress code of lightheartedness and seduction, which Dior was previously familiar with in his childhood. His aim was to extract women out of uniform and ‘practical’ clothing, which was needed in the war period and renew the abandoned traditional dress of elegance.

“I wanted my dresses to be constructed, moulded on the curves of the female body whose contours they would stylise. I accentuated the waist, the volume of the hips, I emphasised the bust. In order to give my model more hold, I had nearly all the fabrics lined with percale or taffeta, renewing a tradition that had long been abandoned”
Christian Dior

At the time, this collection was considered by some controversial as it took back the freedom that women had earned whilst the happenings of the world war were taking place. Women were viewed as equals due to the need of a female to replace a man, and his requirements, however, Dior removed this right when the “New Look’ collection was realised due to his desire to return back to tradition.

The “New Look” innovation proceeds to inspire Raf Simons, as he reinterprets the legendary curves of the clothing in his latest collections, including his Spring/Summer ’15 line.

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Christian Dior by Raf Simons. Spring/Summer’15

This dress evokes the traditional silhouette of Dior. Due to the cut of waist provides the emphasises on the width of the bust and hips, creating a feminine form. Raf Simons, has used ideas from Dior with consideration to a modern context as the materials used are more practical to a woman of the twenty-first century. The cut-outs allow for the classic silhouette without using a corset or thick materials such as taffeta, which restrict movement and comfort.

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Christian Dior by Raf Simons. Spring/Summer’15

Due to modern technology, a futuristic twist can be presented on a garment of classicality. The shape of the heel demonstrates the advanced modern technology on today, which allows balance and strength on such a curve.

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Christian Dior by Raf Simons. Spring/Summer’15

This collection of garment evokes the modern day “bar suit” from the “New Look” collection. The cut of the material is essential in the jacket as the curve isused to accentuate the bust, nip in the waist and heighten the hips. Although being high structure to the form of this suit, the modern day has been taking into consideration as the skirt length is shortened, allowing higher practicality.

Watch the Spring/Summer’15 catwalk below:

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