In the spring of 2012, over eight short weeks, magic happens and a couture collection of suiting and dresses is created from the imagination of Raf Simmons with a little help from Dior and friends.
Dior and I is an inside look into what the 10 year career of Christian Dior the designer has given us to date. What is his legacy after only a decade of producing the brand himself? Where is the brand now?
I will tell you: with Raf Simmons the new creative director producing his first haute couture collection and show.
Filmed within Dior HQ in Paris, France this film is an absolutely beautiful way to set the scene.
65 years prior in 1947, Christian Dior exploded onto the fashion scene. His uber feminine and novel look at the time was dubbed the “New Look” by Harper’s Bazaar and is still revered for his addition to the revolution of post war fashion. His originality and newness made him a household name and he became a conciliator of style. Unlike the celebrity culture of today he was a humble, private man who when confronted with the media felt a level of discomfort in the limelight. His 1956 memoirs are used as narrative in the film.
Dior and Raf are the two central characters. You get to see Raf reinvent the Dior classics. Using his inspiration and know how, his ‘never say never … never give up until the model is on the catwalk’ catchphrase is a very admirable approach to business which pays off when his own creation brings him to tears. The central scene of the film is set in the atelier (workrooms) and focuses on the people who work there. Working in this traditional manner, some members of staff have stayed with Dior for more than 40 years. The two chiefs of staff are Monique Bailly and Florence Chehet, who together pull a show together, literally. With help from Raf’s right hand man, Pieter Mulier.
Diva may have been a word thrown around to describe the reaction of Raf when informed he must “parade” himself to the clients and press after the show; however it is clearly visible his affliction runs deeper than simple distaste. The comparisons between his character and that of Dior’s as narrated through the movie, steer in the direction of Raf Simmons being an ideal candidate for the role of creative director; although his reactions to client maintenance are both entertaining and a dose of reality. Where did he assume Jennifer Aniston would get her new movie release premier dress? Off the rack? Surely not.
This documentary depicts what high fashion can be: emotional, silly, inspiring and dynamic – all the things that could possibly be attributed to art. You get to see Raf, an avid art enthusiast, throwing himself into the creation of each piece as if it was a sculpture or canvas.
Dior and I is written, directed and produced by Frédéric Tcheng, known for Valentino, The Last Emperor. He has worked hard to build Raf’s trust and produce a credible picture. He uses parallels of past and present to denote similarities between the two creators of fashion as well as luxuriating in the rigmarole which comes with being a designer: the press, the shows and the appointments.
This was always going to be better than a documentary about Galliano’s disgraced departure from Dior six months prior to Raf’s appointment. Raf works for the people, he needs our trust and acceptance. Whether you work for the Post Office or one of the greatest fashion houses in the world, this level of responsibility is thrust upon you. Many celebrities are known to suffer from low self-esteem; but to see Raf question his own decisions and declare that he hopes that people like them is a nice display of humanity and vulnerability.
Raf is a profound personality which Frédéric Tcheng highlights in showing that he is just a man with a fabulous job, who hopes you all enjoy his work. There’s an ambiguity to the “I” in Dior and I – who does it represent?
However if you identify with the man, the myth and the legend that is Dior himself, “I” might be a hard working young buck trying to impress his new boss; or, if you want a toile blazer in black rather than white, it could be you.