What a riveting film! The documentary ‘Dior and I’ by director Frédéric Tcheng – granted unprecedented access – shows an intimate glimpse into the fascinating world of haute couture. It takes us behind the scenes and covers the period of 8 (!) weeks in which just appointed creative director Raf Simons has to complete his first – ever – women couture collection for Christian Dior. As opposed to the usual five or six months .
If one thing is crystal clear after viewing this breathtaking film, is that haute couture is a dedicated team sport. Forget about personal space if you are a talented seamstresses in the not so roomy Dior atelier. It resembles a couture beehive where every bee knows exactly what is expected of her. Or him. And when. Without this dedicated equip there is no haute couture. Or as one of the seamstresses puts it: “after working 6 weeks on this dress, it feels like my baby. Now I have to let her go, but a piece of me will always be in this dress”. We’re talking couture family here, they are Dior.
The New Look then, the New Look now
In 1947, Christian Dior made his name at once – at the age of forty – with his New Look collection, a sensational homage to femininity after years of wartime. Accent on the waist, A-line over the knee skirts and pointed heels. He was a very private man, preferred the company of friends to the noise of the social and fashion scene. In 1956 he died of a sudden heart attack.
Christian Dior’s legacy weighs heavily upon Raf and he needs to get out of the towering shadow of his predecessor. Into the spotlight but as monsieur Dior himself Raf prefers to stay in the background.
A moving moment is when he reveals that he started reading Dior’s memoirs but had to stop reading because of the parallels between Dior’s experience and his own. “I had to stop. It was weird,” says Simons. “I thought I’d better not continue reading, until the first show is done.”
His first fascinating collection – FW12 – is inspired on original Dior designs and the opening black jacket is the modern version of the white tailored jacket we all know of the elegant lady along the Seine in 1947. The new New Look.
The Show and the Flowers
Raf is modest, vulnerable and emotional at times. But this Belgian creator knows exactly what he wants. When visiting an old empty townhouse in Paris as a possible venue for his first show, he didn’t like the walls – too dirty – and came up with a brilliant idea. What if we cover every wall with fresh flowers like the Flower Puppy by Jef Koons? After an ok of LVMH ceo Arnault, it took 50 men and 48 hrs nonstop to cover every wall in the villa with mesmerizing flowers… It even made Anna Wintour smile. Say no more. A must see.
In theaters from July, 9. Diorandimovie.com