Autumn/winter 15 marked a change in direction for Dior’s creative director Raf Simons, as he moved away from romance, flowers and in-your-face femininity and entered, in his own words, “the terrain of the femme animal.”
Prior to the event, the world of social media went into furore as photographs began to circulate of Dakota Johnson, the leading actress in 50 Shades Of Grey, preparing to take her front-row seat. We’ll never know if Simons had 50 Shades-style debauchery in mind when designing for the “animalistic, sexual woman” he mentioned in the show notes, but there did seem to be a sexual undercurrent to this collection, or maybe it was just the abundance of skin-tight thigh-high boots that made things seem a bit more animalistic than the average Dior show.
The boots were very similar to those at Dior’s spring 2015 couture show – skintight, shiny and largely unforgiving unless worn by a statuesque Dior model – and, as was the case with the couture looks, they looked best styled with short hemlines, perhaps worn as an alternative to tights. For those lacking long, model-worthy legs, shorter styles were also on offer. All the boots featured transparent heels, which instantly boosted their desirability factor.
Other pieces that were ‘borrowed’ from the last couture collection were the jumpsuits, which this time were covered in what seemed to be very warped and brightly coloured animal prints. The jumpsuits, along with the unflattering cropped trouser suits, were the weakest pieces of the bunch – hopefully Simons won’t continue to push these awkward styles in his future collections – but that isn’t to say that the reconstructed animal prints weren’t visually appealing, and they did a lot of favours for the otherwise simple shift-style dresses that dominated the catwalk.
Girlish 60s vibes were prevalent throughout – manifested in tiny hemlines, ladylike bags and cute collars – this somewhat underpinned Simons’ talk of sexuality. Having said that, several skirts had their hems slashed all the way up the thigh and, with this being sophisticated Dior rather than youthful Christopher Kane, that’s about as risqué as things could realistically get.
Since Simons took the helm at Dior in 2012, there has been much debate as to whether the Belgian designer, together with his less is more approach to fashion, is appropriate for the brand. His predecessor, John Galliano, spent almost 15 years at the French fashion house, enough time to imprint his own larger-than-life aesthetic on the brand, and his legacy has lingered. Given his huge difference to Galliano in terms of design principles, it’s easy to feel sympathy for Raf Simons. However, as he demonstrated with the AW15 collection, Simons does have a knack for creating clothes that are easy to wear. The best pieces out of the entire 57-look edit weren’t the slinky cat suits or the patchwork-like fur dresses; it was the coats that stole the show: oversized, boyish and conjured up in an array of fabrics from wool to tweed, they weren’t anything we hadn’t seen before, but they looked chic and cosy – in the bitter winter, that’s all we need.