PARIS -- Raf Simons showed his most dynamic and commercial Dior collection yet on Friday at Paris Fashion Week, turning the focus away from the fantasy world of the red carpet, which the brand has virtually dominated in recent years, and toward the real world.
OK, so maybe that incredible pink Astrakhan coat doesn't necessarily qualify as work attire, but still, overall, there was a sense that wearability and comfort were chief concerns in this collection.
City lights were the inspiration according to the show notes, but it was more about the pace of the city. These clothes were made for speed, a sentiment underscored by the pace of the models, who walked the runway in quick succession, sometimes two at a clip, wearing sneaker-stilettos that looked like they could handle the mean streets.
There was an undercurrent of athleticism throughout the collection, from the bright color palette, to the sporty lacing details corseting coats and mini-dresses, to the quilted nylon used to create high-low gowns (how great would it be if we saw one of those at the Oscars?).
Another takeaway? Tailoring. Simons put the world on notice that in addition to unforgettable evening looks, Dior is also a destination for a great cashmere camel coat, and a superb double-breasted pinstripe wool jacket with a decorative pleated flounce, worn over a white shirt dress.
In addition to the stiletto sneakers, Simons offered colorful tote bags and clever-looking ruffle-edged crepe scarves to throw over a jacket for a dash of color.
When it came to cocktail hour, the most standout looks were hybrid fit 'n' flare silhouettes layered over mini-dresses, with a smattering of crystals nestled in the pleats. They came in dazzling color combinations, flame orange with royal blue, grass green with powder blue, and sunshine yellow with baby pink.
Embroidered mesh gowns layered over T-shirts or long jersey tanks also looked comfortable and modern.
Now that Dior has got the buzz going (I mean really, is there an A-list celebrity left that Simons hasn't dressed?), this collection should open the brand up to the rest of the world. And that's a powerful proposition indeed.