Christian Dior Autumn/Winter 2016-17 Ready to Wear Show

There was plenty of talk on the front row about who might replace Raf Simons as creative director at Dior – but it was still very much a guessing game.

Will it be Hedi Slimane, rumoured to be quitting Saint Laurent? Or maybe McQueen’s Sarah Burton, who presented her collection in London while heavily pregnant just 10 days earlier. What was apparent was that it was business as usual at this revered French house (which has just announced that its cruise show will be held in Blenheim Palace), with Serge Ruffieux and Lucie Meier, part of Simons’s former team, at the helm.

Dior’s shows have become famous for their increasingly elaborate sets. This time, we arrived at the Musée du Louvre to be greeted by a towering mirrored wall. We then passed through concave tunnels to a set of further receding circles, creating a vast domed interior, with walls of oxblood velvet and matte silver. It was both futuristic and reminiscent of the arches of a cathedral. There was a soft, reverberating boom and the single word “Time” repeatedly sung over the top; perhaps reiterating Paris’s rejection of the catwalk-to-store model that is being posited by some – or merely reminding us that it’ll take time to figure out the right talent for Dior’s future.

In the meantime, the current design team sent out a collection that strongly referenced the house’s DNA, with coats and knitwear being the standout pieces. Coats folded open from the throat, revealing richly coloured mink, or rested gently on the shoulder-bone with zippered ribbed turtlenecks beneath. Some of the dresses, although all beautifully crafted (and many displaying plenty of alluring shoulder), had too much of a mishmash of fabrics and frills, and less of the wow factor and covetability than they had under Simons’s watch.

Still, there was much to admire, and to want for one’s wardrobe. One simple black silk shift dress was utterly tantalising in its simplicity and prettiness – it sloped asymmetrically off the shoulder and ruched up one side with similarly gathered sleeves, which were tied and then starfished outwards from the elbow. Earlobes were adorned with punky mini ear cuffs; the house’s contemporary jewellery line is clearly going great guns. And neat bags were left to purposefully fall open, to reveal their elegantly crafted innards.

Kendall Jenner also made her first Dior catwalk appearance, in an off-the-shoulder mink-collared dress, with her mother watching from the front row.

We may not know yet all that is going on inside the hallowed walls of this design house, but this considered collection had us eager to learn more.

Emily Sheffield

Christian Dior Autumn/Winter 2016-17 Ready to Wear Show


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