“Flowers at Dior” generally conjures somewhat expected images of angelic rosebuds and tidy gardens “à la française”. Not this time, though. In his S/S14 show, Raf Simons surprised everyone with a venue invaded by hanging flowers, more jungle than garden and more acid than pastel. It was a mix of real roses and fake wisteria (made out of silk) masterfully put together by Parisian florist Eric Chauvin. Yet despite all the wilderness, the press release started with the words “Against Nature” (“A Rebours” in French), a reference to J.K. Huysmans’s 1884 decadent novel about an aesthete trying to break away from bourgeois society and retreating into his own creative world. It was no coincidence: the collection was a poisonous twist on Christian Dior’s luxurious New Look, and the hanging flowers were a metaphor of the transition currently going on inside the French Maison.
"The collection was a poisonous twist on Christian Dior’s luxurious New Look"
Long gone were the neat rose arrangements and the carefully trim topiaries that decorated Simons’s first few presentations. “It’s still about ‘Les femmes-fleurs’”, said the Belgian designer after the show, alluding to Christian Dior’s idea of a delicate feminine silhouette mimicking that of a flower. Simons respected the couturier’s belief that women’s waists “should be dainty as stems, their skirts full as corollas”. But if Monsieur Dior’s women were prim and proper as peonies, Simons' were toxic like wild orchids and poison ivy. The collection explored the perilous side of florals, particularly through intriguing slogans printed in some of the dresses. One of them read “Primrose Path”; another, “Alice Garden”: Raf Simons has finally found the hidden rabbit hole in Monsieur Dior’s Granville garden.
Text by Marta Represa