The new venue Hotel National des Invalides had "Dior" written simply, dramatically across the front as a fashion crowd that included everyone from Kanye to Leelee Sobieski made their way inside for Raf Simons's latest lineup. That in itself is a big way to start a show — the evidence of some pretty high expectations for Simons's Spring debut, which happily lived up to the hype. Raf knows how to excite, but it's not for show either; it's modern and wearable, giving Dior a contemporary edge that hasn't been there for a long time. Hemlines were shorter and dresses were sexier, though the most obvious nods to the future were in Raf's pearlescent, iridescent fabrications that covered tops and microminis. It was an awesome play with proportions and silhouettes that Simons masterfully crafted with reimagined suiting — blazers as dresses, slashed pleats, new iterations of Dior's ladylike jackets. Then, the collection gave way to the real head-turners, minimalist shifts and strapless A-line dresses electrified with a flash of neoprene and a whimsical, pearl-like shimmer. The sheer and lace overlays were both entirely feminine but not girlie or precious; they were cool. Even the eveningwear was cool: uniquely crafted and displays of tulle and embellishment used sparingly, just enough to spark interest on — but not overwhelm — a black cocktail dress. For the finale, we got a little more volume and glamour, but it was all elegant and tempered, giving us the most modern rendition of the ballgown with slim, semisheer tops and full skirts covered in iridescent florals. These may be the pieces the Hollywood set turns to for dressing up, but the collection in its entirety proved Raf is adept at building a collection and a design house capable of far more. The pieces in this lineup could take you well beyond red-carpet appearances and the elite cocktail-party circuit (if, of course, you can afford a piece).
- Trends: Iridescent fabrications, suiting, stripes, sheer and lace overlay, asymmetrical cuts, and peplum.
- Colors: Iridescent pastels, charcoal gray, black, white, a flash of bright citron, orange, and fuchsia.
- Key Piece: The pearlescent dresses and tops were brilliant; we also loved the smart, sexy plays on suiting.
- Accessories: Scarves, pointed-toe pumps, metallic heels, metal cuffs, classic handbags.
- Who Should Wear It: The iridescent violet asymmetrical mini was made for Diane Kruger; attendee Leelee Sobieski should wear the white blazer-style dress.