Salutations! Finally tackling my Dior Retrospective Pt.2 and sitting in what is relatively a tidy room for the first time in months; it turns out that this room (It's a sort of sitting room for my siblings and I) is actually quite a nice place and I have decided to spend more time here, especially now that my corner desk, sewing machine and mannequin have been set up in an organised way. I am not at my school, while my siblings still are, the run of the play I am in started yesterday night and continues until September, I have a couple of weekends in Amsterdam and Prague to look forward to, I had a good night's sleep and I am finally starting a post I have been promising to do for months. I feel more rested and fulfilled than I have done in a while... apart from the fact I'm broke and in desperate need of new clothes, which is enough to kill my mood.
Anyway, here is the second half of my retrospective of the last Seven Years and Fourteen Haute Couture collections of Dior... In April, I presented all the Autumn collections since 2005, and in this post, I am to do all the Spring Collections since 2006. Wish me luck, since this has taken longer to put together than I thought it would and it is not as in depth as the first half of my retrospective.
I have, of course, missed the opportunity to present the latest Dior Autumn 2012 Haute Couture, Raf Simon's debut collection, but I am afraid that I can't fully be all awe and praise, though clearly I am at a minority. The delicate engineering was a tribute to logic and craftsmanship, and it would have been a beautiful pret-a-porter collection, streamline and sleek, but it did not feel like couture. I missed all the exhuberance, the theatricality, the sheer luxury that Dior usually brings to the table and the way the clothes made women look beautiful and sophisticated, which you can see in everything below apart from the 2006 collection. There was nothing new and, to be honest, I did not like the level of minimalism which, in my opinion has little place in Dior Couture, and suggests that Raf has not left behind the Jil Sander days. This is not to say that I did not like it; every piece was tailored wonderfully and there were excellent elements. I also bear in mind that he should not be crucified for staying true to himself. As he stated, "I'm not interested in just doing couture that works in magazine pictures. I want it to be relevant." Gorgeous but underwhelming.I appreciate that but I think I might be looking at a future where Jean Paul Gaultier becomes my top choice over Dior as the must-see element of each season.
Something worth watching every moment of from the Couture Runways? The dark, byzantine-inspired Elie Saab. More Fairytale fantasy, Ulyana Sergeenko's debut. Giambattista Valli in luscious reds. Sheer detail at Valentino. A cross between Wonder Woman and an Art Deco Decadence, Jean Paul Gaultier. Even the heavily slated Alexis Mabille. Or, if you do have an appreciation for the simple elegance of the streamlined and the sleek but paired with more drama and dimension, then Armani Privé, which started off with the epitomy of sharp Armani tailoring and finished with stunning Oscar-worthy gowns. Heck, Chanel, forever harkening back to the glory days, was delicious...
Out of the lot I am showing you, this is the worst. Yes yes, I know someone might come along and go, "Actually this is the most genius artistically and in many ways is a perfect metaphor for certain elements of the human condition." but what is comes down to me is that there were very pieces in the collection that I actually liked. This motley crew is the 'best of' and only chosen because I was able to look past the horrendous hair and makeup which almost made me ban this whole Spring 2006 collection from my retrospective. If hair is bad, then the clothes have got to be gorgeous, to make it seem as though it is a reasonable contrast to draw the attention to these polar opposites of beauty. Maybe I am small-minded, but I still like a collection which makes models look elegant or happy or interesting or pretty. Inspired by riots in France at the time and the French Revolution, which is most apparent through the 1789 (Date of the Revolution) written across the model's chests and, I suppose the colouring. There are elements I like - I love the colours of the cloak, this red gauzy coat and the floral yellow dress could work really well if going for the elven look (Well, you might want to)
You may notice that I put a large collection of pictures to illustrate this collection, not only because I could not narrow it down but because it is of a level of beauty and genius that it would be unfair not to show it off as much as possible
Inspired by "Pinkerton's affair with Cio-Cio San", for those who know or know of Madame Butterfly that phrase will make sense. The Japanese influence was played very strongly from origami folding to geisha makeup and the blossoms in the background. Alongside this, is the traditional Dior 'New Look', small waists, full skirts and peplums abounding on some of the dresses. I loved the vibrancy of the colours - from hot pink to delicate corals - the elegance and the sheer craftmanship! That is not, of course, to say that it was new since I found some of the blue numbers especially reminiscent of the japanese artist, Katsushika Hokusai (I may have spelled this wrong) especially the one to the right here... The hats were also incredibly beautiful. I would adore something of the kind for Summer, and I really like the bright colours.
The wide variety of patterns and textures on display was entrancing, spinning the viewer through a fantasy of floor-length column evening gowns to enormous ballgowns fit for a fairytale princess. From fans, flowers and furs to birds, pictures of fish and antler-like hairstyles, every piece in this collection is a work of art (which is always important in Haute Couture) The colours used are also a testimony to how well two contrasting colours can accord - green and yellow, orange and turquoise, purple and green, green and red... a truly beautiful collection infused with the flavours of Japan and built on decades of the archetypal Christian Dior.
Brilliant colours from the brightest yellow to the hottest pink, and shades of everything in between. Dior Haute Couture is always a spectacle, drawing inspiration from aspects of general culture on would think could never go together. Led Zeppelin (apparently) meets the Symbolist painters culminating in meters of duchesse satin and whorled floriform shapes, plastic flowers, chunks of sparkle, and frissons of dangly paillettes as embroidery. Topping it all off: towering laquered hair.
John Galliano's collections could be described as always being a little 'gimmicky' - couture for the sake of couture and extravagance for the sake of extravagance. In this case, all that richness meant the collection teetered dangerously on the brink of overload. Though strange as it may seem, this was not hia most manic excursion into fantasy costume. The shade of high-society sixties hauteur came across as surprisingly chic.
The Dutch and Flemish Painters are the inspiration for this most charming and delectable of collections, as highlighted by the stained glass window background. Is it any wonder that I had trouble deciding which photos to put in? I left this until last because then I would have nowhere else to head and time to gather my thoughts. Imbued with the elaborate lace collars and sleeves of Van Dyck, the blues and golds of Vermeer paired with the typical 1950s romantic femininity of Dior's silhouette, complete with the surface ruffles, bouncing crinolined hemlines, corseted backs and scrolls standing out on hips melting into tulip prints with blue and white delft prints.
Moving away from the masters was almost as beautiful when the palette faded from the sweet Vermeer palette into ivory. Simpler, Newer and Fresher. The sort of dresses you fantastise about and that took between three hundred and four hundred hours each to make.
Equestriennes sporting impeccable riding habits, riding crops clutched in their gloved hands before they give way to incredible ball gowns swathed in metres of duchesse satin: a delicious infusion of senses presented as only Dior knows how.
The wasp-waisted Dior jackets with full riding skirts to frothy pastel cocktail dresses were very reminiscent of the Gibson girl silhouette and topping it all of with hair that looks as if it has been pulled out of Elsa Lanchester as the bride of Frankenstein makes this collection an intriguing proposition, finishing with dresses which Cecil Beaton (who designed the costumes for the musicals 'Gigi' and 'My Fair Lady' - an icon in every sense of the term, I am a fierce admirer of his work and think he is one of the most inspirational people in the world of fashion to have ever lived. You just have to take a moment to appreciate his Charles James collection. Do not worry if you do not, I'm on to writing a post about Beaton's work) would have been proud of. By the end of this collection, and I never wanted to reach the end, which finished with a rose-tinted bustier with ice-blue petaled skirts dusted with crystal, it had distinguished Dior once again as being the torchbearer of feminine, romantic elegance.
The turn-of-the-century feeling worked well with the porcelain-perfect white makeup and matte red lips framed by the backdrop of hundreds of overblown pastel roses, setting the scene wonderfully.
Vibrant scarlets, furs, oranges and colours which dissolved into another like the setting sun, accompanied by the epitomy of Dior perfection - waists, skirts, poufed jackets and coats, elbow-length gloves. Collections like this are why Dior is the place for glamorous, classically beautiful couture. Inspired by René Gruau. who created some of the house's most iconic imagery in the forties and fifties, and indulging a worldwide passion for an era when couture was truly the epitomy of haute.
This more than lived up to the golden age of the fifies and the graphite smears, pencil strokes and scribbles, erasure marks, and gouache washes of Gruau's illustrations were duplicated in cloth and embroidery. Opulently swagged tops and gowns bobbed and floated like billowing sails. Dior's New Look was an obvious source point for skirts that flared from corseted wasp-waists or dropped pencil-thin to below the knee from beautiful padded round hips.
Of course, the most dramatic effects were brought upon by the interplay of light and shade, from sunrise and sunset effects to soft pastels and a dress of an oaky wood colour. Embroidery was used on one side of the fabric only, so it cast a subtle relief shadow and, instead of hand-painting fabric, which would have been the simplest way to achieve the desired result, seven layers of tulle were used to create a shimmering depth of dégradé. The effect was as quietly impressive as the wash of dark pink down a pale pink gown and helped create the sense of acute craftsmanship and quiet sophistication.
In Gaytten's second couture collection for Dior, he returned to the traditional 1950s Dior silhouette. He X-rayed the craftsmanship of the Dior ateliers, and the riveting result was a show that dared to inject an unfinished quality into the most polished fashion arena of them all, however it was the same unfinished quality as was on display in the Autumn 2009 Haute Couture Collection, which looked like the women had half pulled on their beautiful evening clothes. Deconstructed and beautiful but less good than another thing of the sort done in the past.
Sheer layers exposed the underlying construction of garments - for example, black floral designs that were picked out on a flaring white skirt. One could say that the mystery in the construction of a collection preserves the pure magic of Fashion. However Gaytten understands that if you reveal the clockwork behind it, you can enhance the beauty of the mystery. That's because you're throwing a spotlight on the concepts behind the artistry.
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