“I was always thinking of the future for so many years and I was always anti-romanticising the past, but the past can be beautiful too,” says Raf Simons. “There is a sense of the romance of the fifties, with the experimentation of the sixties and the liberation of the seventies in the collection – both in its materialisation and attitude. But I really wanted to express something that felt relevant for today, learnt from then, from the point of view of now; something wilder, more sexual, strange and certainly more liberated for the haute couture and for women.”
Embracing a hallucinogenic amalgamation in the imagination, periods of time are conflated, mixing the traditional with the experimental in materials and techniques. Testing the strengths and pushing the limits of the haute couture ateliers, there is stratification of history in richly layered guipure lace, thickly embroidered with paillettes, and covered in photo-printed plastic shifts, gilets and opera coats. Intricate, tour-de-force appliqued pleating heightens this sense of the decorative becoming the architecturally structured in the collection while new fastening systems in lacquered leather also structure and decorate. Embroidered navy rose ‘tattoo’ body suits and graphic knitted all-in-ones are worn as a second skin as are vinyl boots in acid bright colours.
The typical Dior ‘femme fleur’ is subverted and liberated in the collection. Made unfamiliar, futuristic, graphic and decisive in her encrusted and dripping lace florals, tattoo body suits and hyper-real plastic blossom prints, she is at once exquisitely decorated and disruptive in her mirrored, octagonal terrain of the show venue.
“I wanted that feeling of a sensory overload both in the collection and in the venue for the show,” explains Raf Simons. “Something encrusted and bejewelled alongside the shock of bright colour and sensuality in the clothing with an architectural structure and interior that has a similarly disorientating feeling; somewhere you cannot quite place where you are, or which period of time you are in.”