Christian Dior artistic director Raf Simons on Monday unveiled a collection full of multicultural influences, in what the designer acknowledged was a step away from Dior’s exclusively French sense of itself.
Hollywood actress Jennifer Lawrence, who famously tripped on a Dior gown as she collected her Oscar, joined big names from Asia such as South Korean actress Gianna Jun and China’s Sun Li in the front row.
Simons, presenting his third couture show since taking over in the wake of flamboyant John Galliano’s sacking, said he began by looking at “women from different continents and cultures who wear couture [and] their personal style”.
It then evolved “to be about Dior not just being about Paris and France, but about the rest of the world and how many fashion cultures impact on the house and myself,” the Belgian couturier said in a statement.
“My main aim has been to bring a sense of reality back to haute couture. This collection is about focusing on the reality of the woman herself, including her culture and personality,” he added.
Looks marrying global influences with traditional Dior styles included a grey silk wool dress with black buttons down the arm, skirt and neckline and a cobalt blue one-shouldered wool dress.
Less traditional was a sheer sleeveless grey robe that left the model entirely exposed save a pair of black shorts.
Reacting to the collection, Vogue magazine said that although the Dior hallmarks were all there, they “at times became virtually unrecognisable” due to African beading or changes to hemlines.
“There was a sense of modernity and this was a new way of thinking from Dior: taking fashion tradition and making it obviously and successfully relevant to different cultures, though potentially moving away from an expected and classic idea of luxury in the process,” it said in a review on its website.
Haute couture fashion houses, catering to a tiny number of the world’s richest women, are increasingly winning customers in parts of the world such as China.
Simons’ collection took inspiration from four realms — Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa — with models from all over the globe on the catwalk.
Asian-influenced pieces were “full of balance tradition and purity”, while European clothes focused on the “almost mythical status of ‘La Parisienne’ and the intimate links with the history of the house of Dior”, the house said.
For Africa, the “personal style of the Masai is particular in its inspiration”, it added, and the Americas were represented by pieces that were “bold, sporty, dynamic and graphic”.
Christian Dior chief Sidney Toledano, meanwhile, told AFP the house was continuing to add new customers.
“Haute couture is going well and everywhere. Raf Simons has won the hearts of existing clients and is winning new ones. The Americans are coming back strongly and the clientele is getting younger,” he said.
“Haute couture is no longer something for old women. We are selling to lots to women in their thirties,” he added.
In January, Toledano said that Dior was winning new customers in particular in South America and Asia.
Four days of haute couture collections for autumn 2013/winter 2014 run until Thursday.
Tuesday will see Karl Lagerfeld present a collection for Chanel as the house marks the 100th anniversary of the opening by Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel of her first shop in Deauville in the summer of 1913.