A haute couture design by Raf Simons for Dior has been chosen as Dress of the Year 2012 at the Fashion Museum in Bath. The award-winning outfit, an embroidered and appliquéd cut-off ballgown worn over black cigarette pants (entrance six in Simons’ debut show for Dior), has been selected by Vanessa Friedman, Fashion Editor of the Financial Times.
Vanessa Friedman said: “This dress, or rather evolution of the dress, represents not just a generational shift in fashion – the moment when a new designer took over at the ultimate French couture house – but also an aesthetic new direction. It signals a move away from the most escapist, extreme garments of the fin de siecle and toward a new 21st century, post-recession balance that blends functionality with fantasy, while at the same time returning to the essential values of the couture: making women’s lives easier.”
Raf Simons said: “It is a great honour to have one of my debut Christian Dior Haute Couture collection’s looks chosen as Dress of the Year by Vanessa Friedman for the Fashion Museum. The way the museum’s collection is such a distinct document of not just fashion, but history in general, makes me proud that my clothes can feature amongst those looks and say something about today.
This debut collection for the house of Dior was very special to me. My main aim was to look at the codes, to put the codes of Christian Dior himself, those first ten years of the house, centre stage. These are the codes I want to build further and further on. I think it really has to be clear for the audience, something that should be recognisable in the street in somebody wearing a garment, that that is Dior.
There was quite a clear intention here with the dissected ball-gowns. It was an idea of bringing a more dynamic and young element to couture in quite a literal way. By young I do not necessarily mean age. It is about how a woman reacts in our society today. Her grandmother might have been a couture client in the fifties or sixties but what would she do with one of her grandmother’s ball-gowns today? I thought she would literally cut the bottom off and wear it with trousers. This became a starting point for much of the collection…I suppose in my own way, the slicing of the ball-gown in two, a gown based on one in the archive, was also the idea of breaking the perfection with a gesture. It too was making Dior couture alive in the present day.”
The heavy silk strapless cut-off ball gown is covered with a layer of fine tulle onto which is embroidered and appliqued with bunches of pale blue and pink flowers, highlighting Christian Dior’s own obsession with flowers (the various salons at the show were decorated with walls of colour coordinated blooms). These embroideries feature tiny silk petals, pearls, gemstones and metallic thread, all sewn by hand in the haute couture workroom. The construction of the dress features an internal corset and bustier along with a silk tulle mini-petticoat that can be seen through a split at the front. The flared hip silhouette of the dress, has been taken from the pattern of one of the ballgowns in the Dior archive, the original silhouette is sliced and shortened to form a short dress or top, with side pockets, to be worn over the simple black cigarette pants. The look is accessorised with a pair of kitten heel black pointed sandals and a net veil by milliner Stephen Jones.