Dior in Brooklyn. Who would’ve ever imagined those two proper nouns together in a single sentence? Alexander Wang broke the outer-borough barrier back in February when he showed at the Navy Yard’s Duggal Greenhouse. But Dior, the storied French house and LVMH bigwig Bernard Arnault’s baby? It happened tonight, and the likes of Rihanna, Marion Cotillard, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Leelee Sobieski, Allison Williams, Margot Robbie, the artist Sterling Ruby, and designers including Christian Louboutin and Proenza Schouler’s Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough arrived by water taxi and town car to witness fashion history in the making. Bureau Betak spent nearly a week constructing an elevated floor at Duggal that situated the show’s 1,000-plus guests at window level. The Manhattan views vied for attention with the LED light display at the opposite end of the warehouse space.
Neither could compete with the clothes. This was another lively, smart, lovely collection from artistic director Raf Simons, one that married the practical realism the designer says he sees among his new American clients (he’s been at Dior only two years) and typical French chic. Simons took up the silk scarf—le carré, as they say in Paris—as the show’s leitmotif. It meant that these clothes were more fluid than the sculpted and molded silhouettes of some of his previous collections for Dior. Softer and breezier but without sacrificing the clean, modern look that is so identifiably Simons, or skimping on the wearability factor. Despite the show’s laser focus, Simons had propositions for all occasions.
The feminine silhouette was ultra-high-waisted with long, lean trousers and flaring, knee-length skirts (including at least one in sheared fur) scraping the rib cage. On top there were torso-limning, backless silk camisoles in graphic, abstract prints or draped and layered tops with a boxy, geometric fit. Simons explained he found some of the prints in the house archives; others were created for the show. “I wanted to explore print without being too romantic about it,” he said. “I was surprised by how raw and artistic some of the archival scarves were.” You’d never call the prints and patterns in tonight’s show dainty, not when they were boldly juxtaposed three against each other, as in the case of a cocktail dress that combined multicolor sequins with embroidered flowers with chevroned stripes. Simons’ January couture sneaker evolved here into a sport sandal with scarf straps; it gave printed tunics and long silk evening skirts a fresh, zippy attitude.
There were sixty-six looks in the collection. When Dior president and CEO Sidney Toledano made notice of that fact before the show, he told Simons, “Did you know? This is the sixty-sixth year that Dior Inc. U.S.A. exists.” A total coincidence, Simons asserted, but one that had a special meaning for him. “Christian Dior was a bit superstitious, and I am too.” And, more important, “There was always a strong relationship between Mr. Dior and U.S. clients. It makes sense for us to come here now.”