Raf Simons makes his mark in Christian Dior Spring 2013 show

The venue was a Paris garden meticulously tended to with green shrubs and snaking pathways. The event, Raf Simons, the Belgian designer, was about to put his creative genius on display as artistic director for the Christan Dior Haute Couture Spring 2013 show.

As new kid on the block, having taken over from maestro and whiz kid, John Galliano who was fired after an anti-Semitic outburst in Paris, the top spot was vacant for well over a year before Raf Simons who previously worked for Jill Sander decided to come on board. And it was evident right from the start that he had big shoes to fill. He issued this statement in July 2012 saying, “It is with the utmost respect for its tremendous history, its unparalleled knowledge and craftsmanship that I am joining the magnificent house of Dior.”

His first show was held at a residence near the Arc de Triomphe on a Monday afternoon in July last year and it was pure elegance in motion. Distinguished guests included designers, Donatella Versace, Christopher Kane, Alber Albaz, Marc Jacobs and Diane von Furstenberg. All came to see if Raf Simons could step into Galliano’s shoes. Although Mr Simons kept to the principles of Dior, he revamped the “bar” jacket and paired it with different looks to give it new life and it worked well. After the show, Raf added: “I wanted it to be linked to the codes of Dior, but to have more energy.” And he did just that and John Galliano was all but forgotten in the accolades he received. Versace put it this way, “Before the show, I found it difficult to imagine what Raf would do at Dior, but from the very first look today it made total sense.” Elbaz put it another way, he described the collection as “absolutely poetic. It was perfection. Today was a beautiful marriage between a designer and a house.”

On Monday, the Christian Dior couture spring/summer 2013 show was well underway in a recreated garden in Paris and this time around, Mr Simons was ready to show that he had full control of Dior. And the surprise element was there as well. The show dazzled with lightness, brilliant colour combinations, layers of embroidery all done in spring colours that made the designs pop. Airy skirts were paired with a black bustier, gorgeous dresses in dark green or pale pinks were strewn with embroidery and the piece de resistance, a coat with embroidery on the inside that was breath-taking. It was a riot of colours done in periwinkle, greens, orange and golds and it was clear that Mr Simons had delivered what he set out to do. The show closed with five wedding dresses all done in white or the palest shades of pink and that relegated John Galliano to nowhere land. “Unbelievable” was Bernard Arnault’s response to the show. He’s the chairman of LVMH and Mr Simon’s boss.

Thumbs up on a great show.

T.J. Mueller