The umbrellas at Monaco's Hôtel de Paris boast the cheery motto, "It never rains in Monte Carlo." For the past three days, it has done nothing but rain, which meant that the spectacular show staged by Dior tonight for Raf Simons' Cruise collection wasn't open to the elements as originally intended. A shame, especially when Simons said that regular visits from giant seagulls during the construction of the seaside venue had created a perfect Hitchcockian vibe. He'd hoped the birds would visit during the show itself. No such luck with the audience safely closed off from the driving rain behind thick sheets of plastic. But maybe the weather's refusal to cooperate was a blessing in disguise. The collection that Simons showed was all about the speed of life. With the promise of a glorious sunset over the Med buried under serried ranks of gunmetal storm clouds, it was easier to focus on clothes that were the very embodiment of a dynamic forward movement for Dior.

Monaco made sense as a venue for a few reasons. Historically, there was the connection between Christian Dior and Princess Grace, which is now echoed by Simons' friendship with the principality's Princess Charlene. Five minutes of chat with her and it's obvious that she's a Euro-royal Katniss Everdeen. She'll do for Simons in Europe what Jennifer Lawrence has been doing for him in Hollywood. Both of them are young women on the furious move.

Then there's Monaco's rep on the Formula One circuit. In a few days, the fastest folk on dry land will congregate to race through frighteningly narrow streets in terrifyingly high-strung cars. Tonight, Michel Gaubert mixed hysterically revving engines and a revision of Depeche Mode's "Behind the Wheel" to soundtrack Raf's race to the finish line with a collection that streamlined conventional Dior tropes—flowers, lace, a rounded silhouette—for the twenty-first century. First and foremost, Simons was challenging himself, the way Miuccia Prada does with things she feels she has no natural instinct for. Lace, for instance, has never been part of Raf's lingo. He didn't want the history or the romance of the stuff, so he juxtaposed it against urgent striations of color in a dress that felt like gravity was dragging it sideways. He laid lace over a bandeau top and metallic tap shorts for a carelessly sporty effect, and he streaked lace dresses with fractured, angular graphics. But if there have been times in the past when Simons seemed like an arch iconoclast, what is increasingly coming through in his work with Dior is his ultimate respect for tradition. Why else would he try so hard to make it relevant for the new clientele that is being drawn to his clothes? So here there was a gorgeous cropped blouson with an abbreviated kimono sleeve, couture and casual in one compact package. As well as a floaty, peachy sundress in a satiny twill that wouldn't have gone amiss on Grace Kelly, but Simons bifurcated it with a zip. "A symbol of sport and dynamism," he said.

He's always eulogized the movement of Christian Dior's dresses, but here, at last, he acknowledged the restriction of those original looks, so there were zips everywhere. And aerodynamism. And asymmetry. One message came through loud and clear: release yourself. That timeless incentive amplified the notion that Raf Simons is about to take Dior on a long and glorious ride.