• Love this concertina beach scene print on @marios_official tote available at @therefineryhk now! #PMQIS
  • Congrats to my cousin @elizabethlauldn and her new shop @therefineryhk in the new PMQ building @PMQHKDesign #PMQIS much love for @BernstockSpeirs bunny ears!
  • Love that I always see the best pieces by Brit designers abroad @nicoll_studio @liger_hk
  • Swash land at @liger_hk Patterson St store #SwashLondon
  • Patchwork chair by Brut Cake at @littlethingmag shop in OCT Loft Shenzhen

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.  

Diorhc1
(From L-R, T-B: Sebastian Wickeroth, Andy Gilmore, Nicholas Gottlund) 

Diorhc2
(From L-R, T-B: Adrian Lucca, Mishka Henner, Marius Roosendaal) 

Diorhc3
(From L-R, T-B: Esther Stocker, Marius Roosendaal, Anarchy Dance Theatre) 

Diorhc4
(From T-B: Haroon Mirza, Daniel Temkin) 

Diorhc5
(Gregory Kaliche) 

Diorhc6
(From L-R, T-B: Andy Gilmore, Suzanne Antonelli, Ali Hossaini) 

Diorhc7
(From T-B: Viktor Vasarely, Jer Thorp for Random Number Multiples) 

Diorhc9
(From L-R, T-B: Stefanie Posavec, Tauba Auerbach, Stephanie Baechler, Alberto Tadiello) 

Diorhc8(From T-B: Vincent Mauger, Nike Savvas) 

Diorhc10
(From T-B: Daniel Temkin, Rainer Kohlberger, Recursion Video Lab) 

Sources: I Like This Art, Triangulation, Wasted Spaces and Its Nice That

Comments (30)

  1. Love how you mixed fashion and art! Very inspiring!!!
    xxx
    Nina
    http://trendsurvivor.com/

  2. Peter says:

    Great post – interesting to hear about your passion for the up-and-coming work of design students.
    x Peter @ http://low–couture.blogspot.com

  3. Sara says:

    The problem with always expecting something “innovative” is that “innovation” isn’t something that can be pushed at a pace in keeping with the rate collections are currently being churned out. Innovation- as with many thoughts and processes- doesn’t seem something that can forcibly done at a pace as rigid as a yearly show-schedule; it seems more an ongoing- developmental process. Is it not as important for a designer to be innovative in terms of technology, and textile, as opposed to push, push, pushing for “innovation” (possibly to detriment of the details)?
    In terms of Raf at Dior specifically, it all seemed tactfully restrained, but I think that was a smart move, in terms of re-establishing house “values”/ building a foundation in which to build on (and later showcase “innovation”). There were undoubtedly tidbits alluding to that being the case (the sporadic neon sequins, the neon PVC lining on the shoes, the contrasting [albeit faint] paint-drips on the Bucol silk), and I imagine he’ll elaborate on these details in later collections- just in a way that manifests gradually (in a way befitting of a renowned “minimalist).
    … politics/ judgements/ expectations aside… I bloody loved it. Trained bustier, and tapered trews to-go, please… (I’ll pay later…)!

  4. Augustine says:

    Cant believe u just made the reference. Its really inspiring!
    xxAug

  5. Merel says:

    Although I always read your blog I never take the time to comment: The connections between art and designs by Raf Simons is very inspiring! Thank you.

  6. ttea says:

    SOmething I found interesting about the collection was that it didm’t resemble haute couture in the way we’ve come to know it today, especially in relation to Dior. Almost all of the pieces were wearable in most situations, unlike so many Dior couture gown where flamboyancy was a given. I don’t know if I liked that or not. There was something about the crazy, non-wearability of Dior couture that I liked from an art perspective. Fashion critics loved to attack it, but to me it was art, not utilitarian functionality.
    http://fashionananthropologicalpointofview.blogspot.ca/

  7. Mr Stevens says:

    Lovely, thoughtful, personal political post. Bravo.

  8. Kate says:

    I love how clearly you show the link between art and fashion here and your passion for the subject is evident! A really wonderful post!

  9. VVires says:

    That a circuitry board can inspire a cloth fabric goes to show that everything in the world is interconnected somehow. I feel we can achieve much more creativity, scientific breakthroughs, etc. if we get better at removing concepts from their contexts and applying them to a completely different disciplines.

  10. Juliane says:

    Great, great, great post. I love seeing art and fashion fuse. Crossing art into other realms is always amazing. Now I’ll have to think about what sort of wall art I have and how I might be wearing the same thing.

  11. Kate says:

    Loving these collages. So beautiful.

  12. Amazing geometric designs! Some of them look like they jumped out of a computer matrix.

  13. ann says:

    you could as well compare a peach to an apple , they are both circular, there is nothing artistic about it.
    real vision is not about the surface, these motifs don’t make a silhouette or a theme on going enough to present a designers vision. artists are aplenty , what dior needs is a good art director. because.. what is a ‘dior woman’ ?

  14. susie_bubble says:

    The images were merely a footnote to the post – where my main point was that innovation is scant in fashion but I’ll still go and look for it, even if it is is in less conventional places (i.e. students’ work).
    The art/Dior HC surface comparisons were merely an observation on my part – they were my favourite parts of the collection rather than the lauded “New New Look” silhouettes. I do believe that Raf Simons has MUCH more in him than just reviving and updating silhouettes that WERE avante garde when they first debuted. This is the taster and I look forward to him doing that, proposing an overall vision and as you say, finding who the “Dior” woman is in the 21st century. I just merely observed that with his unconventional design background, he could bring influences to Dior that weren’t previously present – his eye for modern zeitgeist, his awareness of contemporary creativity – entirely different to Galliano’s world of referencing.

  15. eleanor says:

    I’m glad you did this post…. I looked at the collection and was underwhelmed overall. But I did look at each image for about 2 seconds maximum. I like how you’ve stood back and found a positive. The surface details ARE beautiful but the silhouettes were pretty dull and, as you said, re-hashed from the past. I hope he pushes it a bit more next time.
    its a sign of the times when couture is wearable – if i ever bought couture I’d want it to be completely mental, not a pair of black trousers and a shift.

  16. oooch! it’s very intresting mix. great idea. great inspirations!!
    Regards,
    Monika
    PretaCoture
    http://pretacoture.com/

  17. Hang says:

    Hi Sara! Can’t agree more with you about the definition of innovation in this modern fashion scene where new collections come out faster than the creativity capacity would be able to do. And with the crazy pace of consumption, designers are more and more inspired by other designs than searching for an original idea which does not come easily everyday. Even when a good idea appears, it takes months for fabric and accessories development and then production….All in all, changing colours or adding laces are not innovation.

  18. Trendbridged says:

    Like Merel, I always get inspired by your blog, reading it every morning as my daily news, but never participate in comments. I am so impressed and inspired by the parallels drawn not only to the surface/prints and the culmination of art and fashion, but how you point out that a team of designers and freelancers contribute equally to the collection at a house, and that the less known ” zero ad $” designers will be the next Raf or Hedi or Christian. I love how you support the upcoming designers and through that thought there is a whole world out here who support them in return. KUDOS!!

  19. Eva says:

    Flamboyancy was a given with John Galliano’s Dior, not with classic Dior. I find it incredibly interesting what a humongous part of the fashion public has grown to associate Dior couture with Galliano’s opulent theatrics. It seems that the incredible impact Galliano has left on fashion has revealed itself in its full glory just now. To me, this is by far the most fascinating aftermath of the show.

  20. susie_bubble says:

    You’e right Eva… Galliano’s tenure at Dior was longstanding and made a visual impact with the public, something that can’t be erased. I find it interesting that the fashion critics’ review have largely opposed what the general public view has been, having gone through a lot of comment strands and TFS and the like.
    Fashion critics may say that without seeing the show in person and up close, the opinion of some Joe Schmoe who simply looked at the livestream and had images of Galliano’s couture collections in mind, made hasty and “uninformed” opinions. But I think it would be dangerous on Dior’s part to ignore this particular strand of dissent. Yes, the general public may not be potential couture client or even ready to wear, but this feeling reverberates around every area of Dior’s sales – cosmetics, bags perfumes etc.
    This is an age where opinion is everywhere and you’re right, it’s the aftermath of milestone shows such as this one, that makes it all the more interesting to analyse and discuss.
    An argument seems to be emerging in defence of Simons’ collection (on part of the fashion critics) which is that we now need MODERN couture. Clothes that REAL women can wear. We are into a fuss-free epoch. You could even connect that up to the state of the world at a push. I generally have problems with these hazy generalisations – what is REAL and what exactly is MODERN (both heavily subjective) but I can see the validity of their points.
    Then at the other end, you have the gen pub who say that if they could afford couture, why would they fork out for a simple pair of black trousers and a shift dress? They want to buy into a unique fantasy, a dream, something that is a heightened exception above and beyond what expensive ready to wear is (and ready to wear has become a lot more expensive).
    Both I think are somewhat valid opinions and it will be interesting to see how this tussle plays out over the coming seasons of HC and of course, how Simons gets on with the creative direction of Dior. What I’d like to know is what the Dior HC customer thinks. What their reactions were. Errr…. any of them happen to be Style Bubble readers? Doubtful…

  21. susie_bubble says:

    Sara – absolutely! True innovation is difficult to churn out on a six collections-a-year basis (which is what Simons would be doing just for Dior). That is why team building, something I emphasised is so important. Get the right people behind you who funnel through ideas and you’re on your way. I think Balenciaga is a good example of a house that seems to be thoroughly rigorous in constantly bringing new and refreshing ideas to the table – be it in textiles or even something as simple as reinventing a sweatshirt and its context (A/W 12-3).

  22. lucia says:

    I somehow found your post… WOW – I love it.. great to read your opinion on the show.. and love the images comparing to art… WOW.. Nice… thanks so much!! Looking forward to reading more

  23. giboulee says:

    This somehow saved the collection in my eyes. I wasn’t expecting anything, but was dissapointed by my first impression of what I feel is a way of crippling and stamping out any trickle of feminity in clothes. It was congruent in jil sander or his own line for men, but here…? What is his problem with tits??
    Personally I don’t think innovation can emerge with fresh polish applied to an old house, how can you freely create in a place with so many codes?

  24. Editorial says:

    Loving the embellishment and embroidery on these gowns and the link with graphic shapes. The Imagery really gives you a good feel of the textures of the garments.
    http://stylefile.julesb.co.uk/

  25. Deadly Bite says:

    I understand what you say perfectly, and I share it. I always look for wild creativity in fashion (even in the most minimalistic collections, there’s still room for groundbreaking ideas!), and I usually find more inspiration in your reports about unknown student designers than I do in the most of the big names (there are always exceptions, of course).
    I suppose this has something to do with the fact that young designers’ main goal is to create something really impressive in order to catch people’s attention instead of actually selling stuff. They don’t have the weight of a $$$ million brand upon their shoulders, and that gives them the freedom to challenge conventions that most of the established designers wouldn’t challenge. They have nothing to lose, and that’s probably what makes them so atractive.
    However, that’s just an opinion. I’m not even close to being an expert on the subject, so I’ll leave the analysis to the professionals like you ;)
    Going back to this particular collection, I have to say I don’t like it at all (at least, from what I’ve seen). It feels cold and calculated, like some standard manual of “how a classy haute couture collection should look”. It says nothing to me. The concept of going back to the classical Dior is quite obvious here (way too obvious, in my humble opinion), but is this really what this brand needs in 2012? Why going back instead of trying to create something brand new?
    At this point, I think I’d rather go see some absurd designer with 0$. It would probably be more stimulating. At least, for me :)

  26. Hi,
    be careful with naes…!
    Mine is Adrien Lucca (Adrien with a e!)
    Bye…

  27. Eyespectacle says:

    And this is why I love your blog and your thinking!! I also get quite tired at times with all this reworking of past designs and looks. My passion is eyewear, and there very rarely is anything new in this field these days, so I keep looking out for vintage frames, worn in a modern and unexpected way…until someone will come along and blows my mind with a totally new and amazing pair of sunglasses or spectacles that I have never seen before (hopefully!) I have written more about this here http://www.eyespectacle.com/2012/08/Modern-vintage-spectacles-frames.html

  28. jean says:

    Raf Simons designs are always elegant and beautiful. Looking forwards for more of Simons !!!!!

  29. I ran into this blog googling anarchy dance. Raf simons is my fav designer and its so interesting to see that his designs can be easily linked to some of my favorite art
    Def following this blog!

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