His Name Defines Haute Couture
Dior and I is an emotionally honest and dynamic portrayal of the heart and soul of haute couture from film director Frédéric Tcheng. The fashion documentary takes a look through the depths of the atelier of the legendary fashion house, Christian Dior, focusing on the appointment of designer Raf Simons as the house’s Creative Director in 2012.
He has eight weeks to design a collection. He comes from a ready-to-wear design background and has never created haute couture. He can barely speak French and does not sketch. How is he going to translate his vision to the atelier’s? Some of whom have been at the house of Dior for over 40 years; They are the soul of the brand and they honor Dior, they all work for him.
“I hope it’s gonna be good”, says Simons as his first ever haute couture collection is about to be presented. And it was good - exceptional, actually.
The film shows an authentic representation of the strong relationship that is built between Simons and the ateliers throughout the entire eight-week journey. It is a story of achievement, of creative process, of high pressure. Simons has to prove himself under the legacy of Dior when he was not the obvious choice. He came from designing menswear at Jil Sander, and therefore people have called him a minimalist, but Christian Dior is not that. His name defines haute couture.
Raf Simons in the documentary ‘Dior and I’. The Orchard.
Christian Dior’s ateliers and creative team in ‘Dior and I’. The Orchard
Simons takes a minimalistic and radical approach to modernizing Dior. Modernizing it in the sense of a juxtaposition of something so ‘then’, to something so ‘now’. Dior however, was not a radical designer; He said himself that he was reactive, not proactive. Whilst showing Simons’ journey, the film simultaneously narrates from Christian Dior’s memoir and works almost like a guide for the obstacles that Simons must overcome. It’s a ghost-like voice of approval, and uncanny how alike Dior and his successor are in their methods.
The film is amusing at times, yet it feels extremely tense. The fast-paced music at points evokes a nervousness for Simons. The editing alternates between quick cuts of close ups and long shots that create both an intimacy and an anxiousness. Is he going to get his collection done in time? We barely see the fabric and colors in his collection until the finale, instead it shows a lot of white; The white forms of the clothes on the mannequins, the atelier, the studio itself. This further heightens the intensity, which then explodes in blooms of color when his collection is presented. A runway blanketed in flowers. Walls of blue peonies, pink carnations, dahlias, all kinds of roses. This is not minimal in the slightest. And neither of course are the clothes.
The film defies any stigma about high fashion films being pretentious. Instead of focusing solely on the clothes, it shows the importance of creating a relationship with the people who are essentially the soul of the brand. Over concerning the money and collection itself, it communicates Simons being welcomed into the family the ateliers there have created, and it really does take a family to put the collection together.
Dior and I - Official International Trailer