This Week's Wow Video: How Raf Simons Is "Shaking Up" Dior

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Eric Wilson

In this weekly feature, InStyle’s fashion news director Eric Wilson shares his favorite fashion moment of the week, and explains how it could shape styles to come. Look for it on What’s Right Now every Friday.

The Moment: Walking along the Croisette in Cannes with some colleagues this week, looking for a decent ice cream stand while dodging the construction workers who were barricading the beach for the onslaught of celebrities about to attend the film festival there, I wondered for how long this current fashion moment of opulent press trips for cruise collections can possibly last. Certainly, the enormous amount of coverage that has resulted from the recent shows of Chanel, Dior, and Louis Vuitton, likely justifies the expense these companies are paying for just one fashion show. Yet not all that much is actually said about the clothes, which are part of the most important collections for the designers, commercially speaking.

RELATED: Louis Vuitton Heads to the Desert for Its Star-Studded Resort 2016 Show

The Dior show on Monday happened to be one of the most approachable, and precise, from the designer Raf Simons since he became artistic director three years ago. Part of the reason, as I learned in a video interview with the designer, which you can watch above, is that he intentionally lightened the collection, adding brighter colors (inspired by the palette of the French Riviera) and younger-skewing ideas that were not so literally weighted with the history of Dior.

Simons still approaches ideas in an abstract way so that the finished designs look contemporary, even though their historic references might also be apparent, like the manteaux coats and pleating details in this collection, now rendered in light madras, with a sliver of picnic table gingham beneath. But watching this show, and hearing him talk about the collection, I noticed a light dress made of a base of white netting was knit with bright patches of fur created a sunny patchwork from unexpected materials. Likewise, the patterns seen on a series of lurex tops were abstractions of sunsets and seascapes.

RELATED: How Architecture Inspired Raf Simon's Latest Collection for Dior

Why It’s a Wow: It was a gorgeous collection, and happily I had the opportunity to interview Simons, who explains here why he chose the location – Pierre Cardin’s Palais Bulles, or Bubble Palace – as well as many of the ideas that went into the work this season. As you will hear from the designer, his years at Dior have led him to discover his own attraction to Christian Dior’s universal language of feminine beauty and inspiration by nature. Of course, Simons adds, “then it’s my nature to still add things, to shake it up a little bit.”

Learn More: See our earlier coverage of the Dior cruise show, and take a look inside Assouline’s book on the Palais Bulles.

PHOTOS: Runway Looks We Love: Christian Dior


[MUSIC] I found out about it during my studies. And I thought, oh my god, you know? Like, if ever we could show there. Because I was always quite a big fan of Antti Lovag, who built this house. So for me it was quite a what a unique challenge to, to common [UNKNOWN] in this era. I've been always attracted by this environment, very much. I like the contrast between very, like, roughness, you know like the ruins and the roughness of, French, France nature and south of France nature. And also the roughness of how I perceive certain artists that took place her, or that, that came here very often like Picasso and [UNKNOWN], and [UNKNOWN] which were kind of invading this environment. At the same time link [UNKNOWN]. There was like his obsession with [UNKNOWN]. At the same time there was Natural attraction to always you know like, be inspired with nature. I didn't want to make that too literal so I did not want to take an artist inspiration and and say I didn't want to say like this is like inspired by Picasso or whatever, It was more the the kind of environment. I think it was very much an environment kind of feel also, the idea of skyscapes and seascapes and landscapes and what that could, how that could translate into a kind of abstract way into graphic in the collection. And still linking to the glamorous aspect of these environments. Like all the, the lurex pieces in the collection. For me they are kind of abstractions of, of sunsets or sundowns or landscapes but still there was a roughness. There was a kind of earthy feel to them but then they are made with these very glamorous kind of lurex materials. The same way I wanted to. Make a lot of reference to Christian Dior in a way that it was not so obvious. Especially in the architectural aspect of the collection. Like a lot of reference to the manteaux, like the full big manteaux with the pleating that he did but we didn't really, I didn't want to get to that kind of weight or impact. I also didn't want to pin down one era. One moment in time. So, you know, like the shoes. You could, you could as well think, like, funky, new wave kind of feel, which I think is so odd to put that in an environment like this. But then, they were materialized with a lot of materials that you might think Marie Antoinette, by way of speaking. I think it was interesting to do a lot of different kind of contrast. And to try to find the unity more in like a form language or something. But then bring with a lot of, with a different attitude. I think for me it was also new to, to admit that the language that was defined by Christian Dior is such a universal language and it's such, it's a language that you actually can almost not not respect. You know like the, the, the shape of a woman, you know, like the idea of [UNKNOWN], the idea of the garden. Think over the last couple, I had to admit I feel myself also more and more attracted to a certain kind of universal, universe, universality, I don't know how you say that In, in the idea of nature, in the idea of something which is easy to understand, I find that now very challenging and attracting. I think, it's then of course my nature to still add things. Mm-hm. To still maybe shake it up a little bit, or to kind of try things out. But I'm trying to really focus now on the actual woman who has been following the brand for a long time. Who has been buying the brand for a long time. See how they move on with it, with the things that I suggest. So on the one hand, I want to hold very much to the [UNKNOWN]. On the other hand, I also want to kind of Push, push it
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