If there is one film you must be sure to watch this April make it Dior and I. Haute couture defines the very upper echelons of fashion and it is a world that is highly secretive, fantastical and for most of us, out of reach. However this April, Dior and I brings the viewer inside the world of the Christian Dior fashion house with a privileged, behind-the-scenes look at the creation of a haute couture collection – a true labor of love created by a dedicated group of collaborators.
The film begins as the house of Dior is going through a major change. A new creative director, Raf Simons, has just been appointed a mere eight weeks before he is to show his debut collection, during Couture Fashion Week. Cut with archived footage of Christian Dior himself, there is a sense of romance to the narrative whilst also drawing parallels with Simons’s equally pensive disposition. Genuine, modest and shy, Raf Simons comes across as an endearing personality, determined to rebuild the codes of the house of Dior whilst sweeping a touch of modernity through the historical craft of couture.
Emotions simmer close to the surface but the audience does not bear witness to any diva-esque demands. Rather there are touching moments of apprehension, fear and overwhelming, bringing home just how much goes into each and every collection the house creates. Melding the everyday, pressure- filled components of fashion with the mysterious echoes from the iconic brand’s past, the film is also a colorful homage to the seamstresses who serve Simons’ vision.
For whilst Simon’s may be the face of the brands creative direction, it is the premieres (heads) of the two Dior ateliers, one for dressmaking and one for tailoring, who along with their teams are the true stars of this film. Misuse of the word couture is one of my biggest irks. Designers, retailers and consumer’s alike are all guilty of attributing the term to anything and everything with a higher than average price tag, reducing the very importance of fashions most delicate craft. Anyone for whom the difference between haute couture and pret-a-porter is unclear must see this film, if for nothing else than to witness the painstaking work that goes into each garment.
The seamstresses are shown to work tirelessly to achieve perfection, making the fantastical a physical reality and holding no bars to serve Simon’s vision. There is a scene following a fitting that captures this dedication beautifully, when a seemingly simple request to “move the beading from the bodice to the back” leads to a team of six working throughout the night to firstly remove each single hand stitched bead before again reapplying them by hand, one by one. As the film unfolds, it paints a picture of a secretive world, as openly and fully as any documentary of a normally secret world could ever be expected to do. It is breathtaking.