PARIS -- Belgian designer Raf Simons blew the dust off the mantle of Paris high fashion on Friday when he presented his first women’s ready-to-wear collection as creative director for Christian Dior, where he replaced the disgraced John Galliano after a lengthy search for a successor. (Galliano, a star of the design world, was caught on a camera phone in February 2010 making drunken, anti-Semitic remarks that cost him his job and landed him in trouble with the law.)
The look: Simons found his own definition of freedom, rewriting the codes of French design for a new generation with a collection that was all about color, movement, lightness and legs. It was sexy all right, beginning with Dior’s famous Bar jackets reinterpreted as super short coat dresses with surprising bursts of color or crystal embroidery peeking out from a pleat or a hem.
Mini dresses with trailing hems sizzled with iridescent streaks of color in motion. Ball gowns were deflated, chopped off mid-thigh and worn over black shorts. And floral ball skirts were treated as casually as jeans, and paired with black crew-neck sweaters, a trick Simons honed during his time at Jil Sander. Glittery eye shadow, fishnet veils and cat eye sunglasses completed the vision of Dior 2.0.
The scene: The show was held in a large white tent with gauze curtains separating the four salons where guests were seated. The set-up made the venue feel smaller and the collection more personal, even though there were at least 1,000 guests. The photographers outside were 10 deep snapping guests as they pushed their way in, including Robert De Niro, Kanye West, Olivia Palermo and Diane von Furstenberg.