Raf’s Spring ’13 vision at Dior – But is it Couture?

by Katie on January 22, 2013

It was one of the most anticipated couture shows of this season and to many it didn’t disappoint but to a few, myself included, it did. This was a show where Raf Simons showed that he undoubtedly had tight vision and an ability to take Dior’s elegance, major inspirations and calling cards (flowers, lightness, a demure grace) to new levels if not extremes but was it really couture? And is this a signpost of a change in the structure of couture?
Perhaps we expect different things from Haute Couture as we came of age when it was big and blousey and showy, when Lacroix and Gaultier reigned supreme and then came Galliano at Dior with the ultimate statement of couture as theatre and art. Couture has always served to show to the world’s smallest collection of uber wealthy women, with exorbitant prices for the finely skilled ateliers’ painstaking embroidery, beadwork and needlework. To own a piece of couture was to enter an ivory tower where few could glimpse let alone enter. Couture also served (and still does) to bolster the heritage and validity of the label. To sell billions of dollars worth of lipstick, perfume and accessories on the back of that name, that reputation. But has the ‘Haute’ seemingly been forgotten from ‘Couture’ and what does this mean for its future as it merges evermore into the realms of ready-to-wear?
If anything, Raf Simons new vision of couture made it more wearable and practical (but is this what one wants from couture?). Slim fitting pants worn with bustiers, pockets in skirts, tailoring as couture workwear. Yes, this was distinctly a wearable collection that bowed to Dior’s heritage and showed deftness of touch and real consideration for the Dior woman, but that woman is no doubt changing, and will Raf’s pretty vision encourage the purse strings of women and celebrities who want their considerable spend to be recognised as such, not just a souped up vision of Dior ready-to-wear?
No-one can query Raf’s sensitivity for colour pairing and for creating stillness and beauty with the skill of an artisan much older than his years. There is a quiet power to this couture collection, a strength that pulls at the heartstrings like a fine actress playing the role of Hermia. The modernist styling, too, with Guido Paulo’s pixie hairstyles and Pat McGrath’s sparkle dust lips adding a faerie-like Shakespearean quality that made fantasy a 2013 reality. Shot silks and organzas, failles and chiffons layered and paired while the strapless nature of many of the garms as well as demure slashes at the thigh or see-through visibility of the embroidered netting added a dainty kick of sensuality.
Still, this was rather more beautifully honed ready-to-wear taken to a finely tuned and precise level, rather than a stand-out vision of what makes couture and lifts vision to the extraordinary. The quandary remains, is Raf’s new vision of accessible couture the way forward? That very much depends on the purse strings of the all powerful owners as well as the influential buyers.

Catwalk images kindly supplied by permission of ShowStudio. Please click on the link to enter the world of ShowStudio.

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