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Christian Dior Haute Couture Spring 2016

The anticipation was palpable at this season’s couture show for Dior, due in large part to Raf Simons’ abrupt resignation as creative director. With uncertainty looming in the air, there were obvious questions surrounding who would be at the helm of the house’s atelier and what direction the aesthetic would lean toward now.

Those that bore witness to Simons’ inaugural collection for Dior during 2012’s spring couture season (or tuned in to the documentary Dior & I, which chronicled the events leading up to the afore-mentioned) can agree that all the painstaking attention he paid to every stitch and every nuance translated from his imagination and inspiration to the runway exceeded his expectations and those of onlookers.  His interpretation of the Dior woman during his reign was the perfect marriage of ultra feminine elements, vibrant prints and colors, modernity, and exquisite tailoring.  And he did all of this while remaining true to the essence of all things Dior.

But the Simons’ era has come to pass as he now focuses on his eponymous line, leaving everything in the hands of new designers for the house, Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux.  This season, the silhouette was deliberately relaxed.  Typically constricted dresses draped in yards of silk, satin, and tulle, and peplum jackets cinched at the waist gave way to a much softer approach.  Barely there sheer dresses in lilac and baby blue and outerwear pieces void of over-structured elements seemed to, ironically, be the backbone of this season’s assortment.  There were darling skirts bedecked with sparkly adornments.  The preponderance of prints and mix of textures didn’t overwhelm the collection, surprisingly.  But admittedly, the mood felt slightly mundane.

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The palette of navies, blacks, and brooding reds turned spring on its head, with limited offerings of pastels.  And there weren’t as many gowns this season as previous ones, though the ones presented, along with some slip dresses and overcoats, provided an interesting asymmetry about the shoulders.  The collection, though beautiful, personally lacked the essence of the pomp and fanfare that revolves around haute couture.  Erring on the side of ready-to-wear, a number of skirts will undoubtedly make their way on the bodies of Hollywood’s elite.  Jennifer Lawrence and Zoe Kravitz just to name a few.  But a heart-stopping, tear-jerking moment?  The one gown that could bring a crowd to its feet in rousing applause and adoration for its creator?  That effect was missing.

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Nonetheless, the result wasn’t a complete miss.  Maybe the intent of Meier and Ruffieux was to evoke a sense of comfort by peeling back the layers of all the rigidity and structure deeply rooted in haute couture.  As onlookers, we have to account for variable change, especially in the world of fashion.  While this season may be deemed by some as Meier’s and Ruffieux’s tepid entry into such a prestigious design house, it may have many enthusiastic about what the duo has in store for ready-to-wear month given the expert tailoring of skirts, tops, and trousers.  Nonetheless, the designers definitely have to up the ante as far as couture is concerned – especially given this recent revolving door of creative heads quickly being hired and fired after only a few seasons – by effectively intertwining imagination, innovation, vision, and consumer desires.  Hopefully, Meier and Ruffieux will have many more seasons to do just that.

What say you to Dior’s Haute Couture collection this season?

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