Considering there is currently no creative director at the house of Dior, this collection wasn't half bad. The house was clearly, and perhaps naturally, seeking to credit the ongoing legacy of Monsieur Dior with this latest collection. However, there’s no point having a genius founder if you don’t also have a modern day messenger. Alas, much of what was here this season was the result of the in house design team extending Raf Simons’ incredible understanding of the Dior codes. Considering the size and complex demands of building such a large collection, where each piece must tick a box on a commercial line sheet - and work well as part of a total look coming down the runway - the design team is to be applauded. They were lucky to have Raf Simons, for a while, but it is clear that he was lucky to have them too.
This was about going back to the drawing board. Linear black silhouettes were said in the show notes to be ‘as crisp as the sheets of white paper upon which they spring to life.' Nicely put. The codes of Christian Dior are fundamentally about architecture and shape, and the opening looks referenced just that. Dark sunglasses and neoprene collars saw the Dior hourglass silhouette reach for an outré slick and sporty feel.
The majority of the dresses - and even the coats - were off the shoulder. The portrait neckline, which Simons championed at the house, is continuing to be used as a device to keep things clean and feminine. The waistline was high - just as it is at most places this season. The layering of formal cropped tops over midi lengths helped create the illusion of a lifted waist on dresses. One version, a pale pink bramble rose printed top, had a vintage charm while also suggesting the sporty, dynamic edge of a harness. The house was talking about workwear influences this season, so used wide double breasted martingales as a new interpretation of the lines on the Bar suit.
Winged shoulders on a Victorian black dress looked modern gothic with black lips and bare legs – and served to remind us that it was last season's influential Dior collection that is largely responsible for inspiring the current Victorian vibe this season. For A/W 16, Dior extended its creative engagement with this historical period via irreverently courageous leg-of-mutton blouses in bright orange. Juicy colours and floral embroideries popped up throughout the collection - as did lots of mish-mashes of patterned fabrics. The touches of eclecticism were applied with conviction yet sensitivity. There’s a team here who really knows their new customer, and who is taking stock of what it has learned from Raf Simons. If he should show up at another women's design house - or launch his own womenswear label - it would be interesting to see if and how Dior would disband and move in another direction.
If the label chooses a designer from another house as the new creative director much of this might have to change anyway. As the rumour mill turns, the house of Dior seemingly stands strong.