It feels like it's taken no time at all for Raf Simons to apply his own thumbprint to Dior. The latest proof arrived with a Pre-Fall collection that spoke the Dior language with a very convincing Belgian inflection. The loveliest example was the eveningwear, where, applying himself to the challenge of doing something new on a road so well-traveled, Simons went classic—as classic as a T-shirt, which in this context naturally read a little bit radical. That's the essence of Raf Simons: the search for new meanings in a recontextualization of the familiar. It's a quest that is working odd, exciting wonders at Dior. What would a classic army green, orange-lined MA jacket look like if it was extended with the addition of a flaring skirt? Well, this is what it looks like.
The T-shirt-ness of the eveningwear was most obvious in the graphic panels, like decals, on the front of a tank dress or a trapeze top. There were jacquards of flowers floating above minutely detailed landscapes: a Belgian beach with a bicycle in the distance, a Dutch tulip field with a traditional windmill and a wind turbine bracketing the horizon, both so tiny as to be almost invisible… "About infiniteness," Simons offered cryptically. About a haunting beauty, too.
On more familiar ground, the Bar jacket, Dior's tent pole, reappeared in a newly soft, unstructured version, with an optical silhouette that created the illusion of a smaller waist and emphasized hips. Simons revealed an unexpectedly deft approach to old-school glamour with a red mink coat and—a first for him—leopard print. A 90-year-old client had given back 18 animal-print coats to the house, and Simons immediately felt a challenge to honor in his own fashion such a substantial wedge of Dior legacy. "Extravaganza in a new way," more graphic, less vulgar. Same thing with a couple of sleek little items in double silk. Their mutated trumpet sleeves harked back to the haute-est couture, but their metallic titanium or gold sheen was gilded futurism.