Raf Simons’ debut as Creative Director of Christian Dior, spearheading the label’s Fall 2012 haute couture collection, was one of the most anticipated fashion events of the year. Sharon Stone, Jennifer Lawrence and Marion Cotillard sat front row. So did just about every designer on the planet that matters—Alber Elbaz, Olivier Theyskens, L’Wren Scott, Riccardo Tisci, Diane von Furstenberg, Azzedine Alaïa and Marc Jacobs, among others.
The show was held in a private house on Avenue d’Iena in the tony 11th arrondissement of Paris. Five salons in the mansion were each blanketed in a different kind of flower including white orchids, red roses, blue delphiniums, yellow goldenrods, and pink roses and mixed garden flowers (Christian Dior himself was a noted floral enthusiast). More than a million flowers were used decorate the space—something that impressed one of the toughest critics of them all, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who was overheard from her front-row perch saying, “Isn’t this amazing?”
Since Raf Simons was announced as John Galliano’s replacement at Christian Dior this April, following a search that lasted more than a year, many wondered how his minimalist aesthetic would translate at Dior. His debut included looks ranging from somber black pantsuits to coat-dresses in cashmere to full skirted gowns truncated at the ankle, in a direct nod to Christian Dior’s “New Look.”
Most of the New York fashion crowd had nothing but glowing things to say. Cathy Horyn, The New York Times fashion critic and longtime Raf Simons enthusiast, blogged, “In almost every one of the 54 outfits, in almost every detail, Mr. Simons made a connection to the first decade of the house, when Dior himself was at work. He then put those ideas—among them an architectural purity in construction, a preference for pockets, a sense of femininity but also ease—through his own filter.”
Designer and CFDA President Diane von Furstenberg took to Twitter to say, “Raf Simons did a superb Dior show! Very Dior! Another talented Belgian!”
Designer L’Wren Scott said, “Thought the show was just very next level Dior. New and exciting. Like all things Raf.” Designer Peter Som called the collection “gorgeous, modern, luxurious.”
Marie Claire Fashion Director Nina Garcia said the collection is “couture with a modern twist.” Vogue Creative Director Grace Coddington told the AFP she "thought it was really beautiful. And my expectations are always very high.”
Most of the fashion crowd was intent on looking forward, into the new Christian Dior era, but W magazine’s Fashion and Style Director Edward Enninful was one of the few reflecting on Christian Dior’s past.
“Thinking of John Galliano today, “ he tweeted after the show. “Talk about setting the bar high.”