This isn't another review to add to pile of hypventilating praise, discerning analysis and quicksighted criticism heaped at Raf Simons feet, on the occasion of his haute couture debut at Christian Dior yesterday. I didn't see the show in person. I have nothing to say.
What the show did make me think about was the eternal search for innovation in fashion. Or specifically, why I keep looking deeper and further, beyond the known brands and names, that everyone is familiar with and particularly when student shows come around, why I insist on devoting the energy towards seeing as much as possible. Amy Odell on Twitter recently said "Are masses really (that) sad not to know about some avant garde designer somewhere w/ no ad $ making hats out of balloons?" She means it in jest as I did join in on the Twitter convo but the woman speaks truth because I do corner myself into a niche by being one of those people who seek out designers with zero ad $, possibly making hats out of balloons.
The point is though when so much of fashion is a mild-mannered rehash of the past or at best a refreshing take on something that occasionally takes you by surprise, but lacking in groundbreaking momentum, your brain often wonders "Is there more?" With a design luminary such as Raf Simons, I will keep on asking for "more" because I do believe there is much more in him than just pushing out a New New Look, as everyone is dubbing the show yesterday. Likewise, with Nicolas Ghesqui√®re at Balenciaga, another luminary, I pretty much expect "more" just because so often, he does deliver more. It comes down to a handful of names. A trickle of sand in a vast desert.
If unearthing the truly new and innovative has become a difficult task in the main fashion circus then so it is that I continue to turn to fashion students' work. These are the people, who will be the next generation of people to go into employment at the houses, to provide that genius bit of textiles or thematic research that will then be pummelled into the collections we see, guided by the creative directors. I come back to my oft-used point that one lone creative director does not a house make and that the nameless first, second assistants, studio directors, freelancers and collaborators all play their bit towards contributing to that rare moment when a brain-searingly magnificent collection does come around.
The footnote to this post is a visual one as I thought the best thing about the collection was when you honed into the details – the construction of the triangular mesh lace, the deconstructed floral embroidery by the Maison Vermont and the woven Bucol silk inspired by the painter Sterling Ruby – they all collectively reminded me of a myriad of artists and I suppose this is where I feel Simons could make his mark at Dior, drawing from his unconventional background as an industrial furniture design student and his interest in contemporary art and modern zeitgeist, to create an exciting shake up in fabrications and silhouette, doing away with the twee and the banal.