Yesterday was Christian Dior’s birthday. Some get their face put on a cake, others on a sweater. He made a cameo in Kris Van Assche’s A/W 17 show for the brand, on a sweater bearing the slogan, ‘They Should Let Us Rave.’ Who’s they? The show played into an energy that’s running across fashion - that of designers held back by the man, restricted by changes in politics and popular consciousness. When it’s a young designer, worried about the repercussions of Brexit or the growing anti-immigrant sentiment, sure. But it’s hard to get on board with a huge, rich corporation playing insouciant or vaguely using the language of oppression to create something that feels edgy or hard. Indeed, this show was called Hardior - tis the season of wordplay if this and the awkward ‘The Loewe Street Journal’ are anything to go by. The tagline referred to hardcore clubbing - we were treated to a lengthy light show before the first model emerged to get us in the mood - and the palette of black with flashes of traffic light brights. The bold orange instantly recalled Trainspotting, which is creeping up on mood boards across town thanks to the upcoming release of the second film.
These references to Gabber, late night parties and hedonistic freedom, were part of a broader strategy of relaxing the Dior look and attracting a younger audience with more casual tailoring. Youth is the ultimate elixir in fashion - the real aspiration. There’s a long history of brands trying to bottle the magic of youth and package it up as a commodity. That’s what today’s show attempted - freedom through clothing, fun through party-inspired tailoring. But, to return to the slogan above, if the Dior man wants to party, he should just party. No one gets edge or personality through a slightly off-beat suit. Indeed, nearly all of those items on show, despite the proclamations of looking to a new generation, will be worn at cocktail parties, not raves or club nights. One detail impressed upon as a sign of Dior’s strides to modernisation was the fact that Mr Dior’s favourite necklace had been repatriated as a key chain. Edgy! Or is it? Do kids even wear key chains anymore? They’ve moved on to iPhone cases. That key chain is an apt motif for this collection - it was a constructed, costume of youth and irreverence, ready and waiting for someone to try on and masquerade, rather than a authentic wardrobe for the modern partier - he’d be raving whether or not given permission.