Raf Simons presented his first runway show for Christian Dior in Paris yesterday. As anticipation goes, the expectations on this collection were high, or, one might say, haute. Not only does Simons’ debut finally put to bed over a year of succession turmoil at the French house, yesterday’s couture show–the Belgian’s first–was a triumphant answer to the unceremonious turfing from his previous job at Jil Sander.
There was a tremendous amount of goodwill for Simons from the fashion world. Front row regulars such as Carine Roitfeld, Anna Wintour and Natalia Vodianova joined a cadre of designers–including Marc Jacobs, Alber Elbaz, Riccardo Tisci and Azzedine Alaïa–and celebs, such as Jennifer Lawrence, Marion Cotillard and Marisa Berenson, who came out to support Simons for his debut.
The collection garnered near universal acclaim for harking back to the nipped-in waists, full skirts and Bar jackets of New Look–era Dior, while bringing in Simons’ modern streamlined silhouettes, such as “cut-off ballgowns” over cigarette pants. The New York Times‘ Cathy Horyn praised Simons for taking those early ideas “among them an architectural purity in construction, a preference for pockets, a sense of femininity but also ease — through his own filter.” WWD‘s Bridget Foley said “The collection was not only beautiful but the work of an already-established fashion star imposing his own brilliant aesthetic upon an iconic legacy without a trace of intimidation.”
It has been a tumultuous 16 months for the house of Dior, since then–creative director John Galliano was fired. Of the endless speculation over who would take over the creative direction of the house, LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault told WWD, “I didn’t want to rush.” Simons, it would appear, was worth the wait.