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DIOR AND I Fashionable Insight

DIOR&I

Directed by Frédéric Tcheng

Starring Raf Simmons

 

In 2012 Raf Simmons was made creative director of Dior. Traditionally thought of as a menswear designer, this film follows the eight week period leading up to his first haute couture collection. We are given a behind the scenes look at the design process, as well as the workshops that must make it happen on the day.

Like good fashion, this works by taking an existing formula and tweaking it slightly, taking it back to a minimalist approach and just adding a few accessories to individualise it without ruining a classic silhouette. For Dior And I this takes the form of a rather deceptively straightforward telling about the creation of a collection. Going from conception to runway is something we have commonly seen in fashion documentaries and it is something we again see here. That titillating insight into the fashion industry, that time when the magic happens, and that time when approaching deadlines and “creative”(read “somewhat crazy”) demands cause nerves to fray and tempers to boil over. As usual it is compelling viewing.

However Dior And I manages to accomplish so much more than the average fashion film. In part this is due to the importance of the label. With the recognition the brand has, with the money this global industry pulls in, with the decades of history surrounding this fashion house, the stakes are intensified. Being granted a fly on the wall view at this moment of change, as Raf places his mark on perhaps the world’s largest and most prestigious fashion company, is riveting stuff.

Yet it is in its considered approach to the issues surrounding this that makes Dior And I interesting. Is it is not just the collection, but what it represents. A collection of haute couture may be important, but the ateliers also have the considerations of high end costumers to consider, who are also placing demands on the limited workshops. Raf must demonstrate his own fashion mark, but can’t stray too far from the conception of the Dior’s previous work. He also must woo the press and the fashionista. It is the tip of the fashion branding iceberg, and we are given a hint as to how this high end drama can effect a multi-million dollar industry – all issues that Dior And I is careful not to draw from its main narrative too much, but addresses tangentially.

Also lurking in the background is the ghost of Dior. Be that literally, as in some of the lurid tales of the security guards in the fashion house would have it, or figuratively, as in the vast collection of his work that Raf draws on for inspiration. For it’s part the documentary handles this by giving us intermittent extracts of  Dior’s autobiography,  drawing parallels to the experiences of a designer as well as history of the house. It is a device that could so easily be overplayed, but here seems perfectly tailored.

A fascinating insight to where couture and big business meet.

 

DAVID O’CONNELL

 

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