The designer said he was searching for a modern
interpretation of fashion codes from centuries past for his
fifth haute couture collection since he was appointed Dior's
chief designer in 2012 to replace John Galliano.
The show at the Rodin museum, staged in a gigantic round room
with walls decked with white orchids, opened with a series of
pale silk dresses with panniers, the dramatic side hoops first
introduced by the Spanish court and immortalized in the
paintings of Velazquez.
The collection moved on to long dark court jackets with
embroidered collars resembling those worn at the court of Louis
Bright stilettos brought modern flair to the looks, while
handbags, one of Dior's biggest products, were notably absent.
"Raf asked himself how 18th century fashion could be
re-interpreted with today's codes," Dior Chief Executive Sidney
Toledano told Reuters after the show. "He looked at it not from
the point of view of today, not one of a museum."
Other striking dresses included 1920s-inspired embroidered or
printed cocktail dresses and long woollen coats with slightly
On the front row were French actress Marion Cotillard, the
brand's ambassador for its bags and Charlize Theron, the face of
Dior's J'Adore perfume, with her new partner, actor Sean Penn.
Asked what he thought of the collection after Theron praised
Simons effusively, Penn deadpanned: "I just follow her."
Others French actresses at the show included Chiara Mastroianni,
Isabelle Huppert and Marisa Berenson.
The ex-girlfriend of French President Francois Hollande, Valerie
Trierweiler, used her front row seat to rekindle media attention
to the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamists more than two
months ago, sporting a T-shirt that read: "Bring back our
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"I find it so amazing that everybody got mobilized for them two
months ago and now nobody is talking about them, it is as if we have
forgotten about them," Trierweiler told Reuters.
She said Christian Dior was the French fashion brand she wore the
most while at the Elysee presidential palace, but that she now no
longer had the budget to afford the designer's dresses.
Earlier on Monday, Marco Zanini, formerly at Rochas, presented his
second haute couture show for Schiaparelli, the once-sleepy fashion
brand relaunched a year ago by Tod's owner Diego Della Valle.
Critics called the collection more mature and harmonious than last
year's, with clear common themes such as shoulder pads, high
waistlines and original sequined prints.
Elsa Schiaparelli, inspired by artists such as Jean Cocteau and
Salvador Dali, was a rival of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, making her
mark in the fashion world with sharply cut suits ornamented with
avant-garde drawings from her artist friends.
Seven years ago, Della Valle acquired the brand, which had laid
dormant since 1954, hoping to replicate the success he had
resuscitating shoemaker Roger Vivier, Tod's fastest growing brand,
whose sales more than doubled in 2012.
This year's collection included harlequin-inspired tunics, a
voluminous white wedding dress printed with black crows, and
audacious mixes of colors such as a caramel silk shirt paired with
pastel pink trousers tightened by a green belt.
"I wanted to pay tribute to Elsa Schiaparelli's irreverence and
provocation," Zanini told Reuters.
(Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Alexandria Sage)
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