Raf Simons' reverence for the design codes of haute couture is well-documented, but, given his innately cool Belgian objectivity, it's no surprise, now that he has an actual couture house to play with, he should be keen to bring his own reality to the fantasy that he has cherished for years. His first pre-fall collection for Dior was a litmus test—pre-fall being the most "real" collection a designer can show, because of its commercial impact. The first outfit in Simons' lookbook made a particularly convincing manifesto. Dior's hourglass Bar jacket is a couture emblem. After offering it at its most rigorous in his couture collection, Simons paired it here with a slouchy pant. Rigor relaxed. He made his point even stronger by showing the same outfit in a Japanese denim. And he raised the Bar—a higher waistline is a more flattering cut for short-waisted women. (Sarah Burton effected the same sensitive, sensible change at McQueen.)

The last outfit in the lookbook also spoke its own particular volume. A billowing skirt—tied at the waist, dipping to the floor in back—had a classical couture stateliness, but it was paired with a cashmere/silk knit T-shirt. This kind of casual glamour could be a Simons signature at Dior.

At the moment, it's a more successful thumbprint than the swoops of asymmetry that Simons draped down one leg, or the layering that also carried through from couture. As easy as that skirt-and-T-shirt combo looked, they felt a little forced, perhaps because they weren't particularly precise. And precision is Simons' forte. As in a white leather trench, laser-cut edges hand-painted, skirt slashed up the thigh. Or a trapeze top and skirt in floral-patterned perforations burned out by laser. A new lace, Raf-style.