Last week was one for fashion films. I started the week with serious panel discussion and finished it with the pure indulgence of watching Frederic Tcheng’s documentary, “Dior and I”, gaining an entirely fresh perspective on Dior. Though clearly made with corporate reputation in mind, it is the work of both Christian Dior and Raf Simons that shines through, along with the amazing feats of the petits mains.
If these are the stars, then the supporting cast is the flowers. They pervade every scene and on a visit to Dior’s family home (now the museum) in Granville, we learn how important an influence they were on Dior, especially his favourite, the rose. The more I looked at full-blown peonies, cabbage roses and splayed syringa petals the more I started to see in them the lines of the New Look, with petals spread from a slim-stemmed “waist”. Having spent the last few weeks longing for spring flowers to signal the end of winter, it was easy to imagine a similar longing of post-war women for the opulence of the New Look after wartime austerity.
In the film, Simons picks up the flower theme with textiles. We see that he is a designer who works hands-on, by draping fabric instead of sketching. He starts by defining the flower-patterned textiles he wants and then continues by draping them around the toile-clad models. Seeing those pictures from his first Dior collection again gave new an entirely new appreciation of the work of both men: seeing Dior anew through Simon’s perspective.
London’s Garden Museum hosted a small exhibition last year on the theme of fashion and gardens. I wonder if the topic of fashion and flowers needs a bigger show of its own?