Dior Spring 2016 Couture

The first collection since Raf Simons' departure, the first carried out entirely by a team rather than with the aid of a creative director since the infamous fiasco of John Galliano, Dior's spring 2016 couture show maintained the constant aura of change that occupies a fashion house in an awkward period of transition. And awkward it was. There were elements of each look that I could name only in relation to another designer; a very Céline (read: Phoebe Philo) coat, a Margiela (by John Galliano) style of crooked embellishment, a Valentino (Pier Paolo Piccoli and Maria Grazia Chiuri) usage of lace, a few Chanel (Karl Lagerfeld) shapes, a (Miuccia) Prada-esque combination of clashing colors, and even a few dresses that made me think of pre-Galliano Margiela c. fall 2014 couture. It was most certainly not Raf, but was it Dior?

We, as in fashion's fans and followers, commentators and creatives, have travelled so far from the original elegance and elitism of Christian Dior's New Look Revolution, that what passes as "Dior" or not is hard to say. Raf Simons was undoubtedly capable in creating the characteristics of Dior in the modern day, but he is also, and more importantly, capable of dressing a true revolution; innovation that would be wasted at a house that must cater to such a broad and established audience. The clothes were, altogether, decent, but lacked the extra details of cohesiveness brought only by a single, central creative force. The general jumble of the collection was to be expected, what with the house functioning without a creative director, but the disorder and confusion still came as a shock when attached to such a high name as Christian Dior. 

Photos via Vogue Runway.

A New Norm

Fashion has never been known for its realness, but now more than ever it seems as though the industry is split in half in regards to truth in body image, leaving very little room for a more moderate middle ground. On one hand, Instagram and the weight of social media on young people's lives is leading to a greater desire for false reality. The editing and retouching done to photos for the sake of uploading them to Instagram just seems like a norm -- none of my friends, or myself for that matter, will upload a photo without running it through a series of edits using various apps and filters. This behavior leads to the expectation that real life is supposed to look like a scroll though Instagram. Being a teenager myself, I can accurately say that many young people see life through the lens of a camera rather than their own eyes; searching for colors or patterns to match their aesthetics and themes rather than being open and observing all that life has to offer.

To counter all the open artificiality in social media, the obviously over-edited and photoshopped-to-perfection, a wave of "realness" seems to have hit. Under-edited and in your face, these photos don't exactly combat all the filtered plastic, but they are a step in the right direction. Real or otherwise, the underlining question when using any social media should be why. Nowadays we forget social media's purpose (however shallow it may be) and post simply to post. Everyday objects suddenly get hundreds of likes for being caught in the right light. While I do believe in special moments, and finding something special in the everyday moments, I don't believe they should be defined by a post to social media. I often think that everyone would feel and live a bit more if social media was extinct, but then how would people know just how much fun/pain/thinking/love you're feeling?

They wouldn't. But you would and that's all that matters.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for an aesthetically pleasing and well-planned feed; above anything else, it all just makes me wonder what makes us as people attracted to a certain uniformity in style, and also how to develop an eye for such curation. What makes someone look at a grocery store aisle of detergent and see such aesthetic?

Business Versus Art

Fashion is a complicated industry for many reasons, one of the most prominent being the careful balance between business and art that gets disrupted so easily and frequently. Is fashion ever really in perfect balance or harmony? Has there ever been a period where the concrete, business side of fashion works hand in hand perfectly with the abstract, artsy side of fashion? It seems as though one side has to fail, or at least be left significantly untouched, in order for the other side to prosper. Right now, the fashion system exists unbalanced, for which the blame rests unevenly on the two sides. On the business side of things, designers are expected to churn out collection after collection with little time for innovation and reflection, working, as Alexander Fury writes perfectly, as "machines that can easily be turned on and off." The harshness of today's fashion schedule, that subsequently results in the subpar designs on the art side of fashion, is tearing down the fashion industry as we know it. As Alexander Fury also points out in his article, fashion has seen numerous "groundbreaking" moments (new silhouettes, ready-to-wear, technology), which can only be expected from an industry so dependent on change. 

Today's fashion is, undoubtedly, caught in one of those major turning points that will be looked back upon in history in either glory or disdain. The golden days of fashion are either behind us or yet to come. Only time will tell whether this change will be beneficial or malicious towards fashion's evolution, but one element that will most likely remain constant is the power struggle between business and art. Fashion is all about beautiful, thoughtful clothes, but clothes must sell.

Raf Simons at the end of his final collection for Dior.

Balenciaga by Alexander Wang.

Dior by Raf Simons.

Lanvin by Alber Elbaz.


Gucci, Gucci, Gucci

Every Gucci show and presentation since Alessandro Michele's appointment has elicited a strong, encouraging response from the industry. His quirky, '70s-chic aesthetic has been hailed for restoring the house's intrigue from the dry, overdone hands of Frida Giannini. While I am most certainly grateful for his aid to mainstream appreciation of the sexy nerd, our (one-sided, completely clothing and talent based) relationship remains love-hate. Along with seemingly the rest of the fashion industry, I was pulled in by his bohemian menswear show last January, his first collection as Gucci creative director. The risk that Gucci took in his anonymity was reassured by the surety and strength of his aesthetic. But, rather than lead the brand into unexplored territory, Alessandro Michele is bringing Gucci back to the house's roots, which is a necessary step after the reign of Frida Giannini, but also not one to be overdone. Alessandro Michele is treading the line between simply revisiting the archives and reinventing them. When I look at Michele's collections for Gucci, I see designs that are relatively new for Gucci and fashion today, but, after a bit of research, are actually just curations from the 70s. Fashion relies so much on nostalgia, which can be satisfying because of its element of comfort, but nostalgia will never move fashion forward. Michele continues to stick by his already well-established aesthetic, but I hope the work he's shown thus far is only a primer for what's to come. I have faith in Michele's dedication, but his actual design I feel I've yet to see. He is, undoubtedly, a brave and talented curator, which are the same labels I've award Saint Laurent's Hedi Slimane (which is, in my opinion, not a compliment.) Just because Alessandro Michele's take on Gucci is different, does not make his design new.