When Dior announced that it would show its Cruise 2017 collection in London, the fashion world, including us, wondered (yet again) if a Brit designer, like Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton or Céline’s Phoebe Philo, was finally stepping into creative director Raf Simons’ shoes.
Belgian Simons may have quit Dior in October 2015, but he continues to influence the French fashion house’s collections — even though they’re now helmed by design duo Serge Ruffiex and Lucie Meier, who are also behind Dior’s pre-Fall, Fall/Winter and haute couture 2016 collections.
Dior’s Cruise 2017 show was held at the 16th-century Blenheim Palace, the residence of the 12th Duke of Marlborough and where Dior had previously showed its 1954 and 1958 haute couture collections. The first look of any collection always sets the tone: Here, it was a navy cotton jacket over a yellow jacquard peplum top and navy cotton kick-flare trousers, accessorised with an oyster-shaped necklace, red handbag and a slim foulard scarf threaded through the blazer.
Stronger looks followed, combining Dior’s signature silhouettes with English fabrics: Tightly waisted signature “Bar” jackets, full printed silk skirts, tailored white shirts, floral tea-dresses, knits, and, of course, Christian Dior’s favourite tweeds. Almost all the looks were anchored in sleek hiking boots with embellished gold block heels — perfect for tromping about in the countryside or on city streets.
Call it French couture meets British chic, elevated by street style-ready statement pieces that Simons might have designed: A one-shoulder midi dress with a scarf threaded down the front, a sporty light blue coat with puffed sleeves and a gathered waist, a sporty vest embellished with a threaded pattern on the front that was paired with a wrap A-line skirt.
Then there were the accessories. Sporty waist bags and pouches (very Raf) were heavily embellished with sequins and beads (very Dior). Scarves were threaded through metal bracelets and left trailing down wrists — we predict a new wrist candy trend.
Pulled apart, the pieces were definitely wearable; yes, even the chintzy print-on-print combos. With Cruise collections responsible for up to 60 per cent of fashion brands’ ready-to-wear revenue, this is a good thing.
It’s clear Ruffieux and Meier know what works for the house — but for how long? Because it’s also clear, at least to those of us in the fashion business, that while they have created plenty of covetables to buy, it’s not quite the same as when Simons was in charge. It’s said that the brand may hire its first woman creative director by the end of this year. All we can do now is wait. And see.
Photos: Adrien Dirand and Dior