PARIS — Freedom was at the heart of Belgian designer Raf Simons' debut ready-to-wear outing for Christian Dior – a confident show that twinned the essence of the 1950's "New Look," with the liberated hemlines of the 1960s.
Simons, a minimalist, is in many ways the stark opposite of Christian Dior, the exuberant house founder who favored longer ankle-length silhouettes.
But Friday's free, liberating display shows that in spirit – if not perhaps in silhouette – they meet eye to eye.
Simons took the "New Look" bar jacket, in black, gray and white and sent it down the catwalk often bare-legged, with the hemlines of the sexual revolution.
It was the same rebellious mood with which Christian Dior founded the house in 1947: His long-length "New Look" shocked the fashion world in its indulgent use of material – a backlash against wartime fabric rationing.
"The foundation of the house is a reaction to restrictions," said Simons. "I wanted to do that too."
Do it, he did – not forgetting to have fun on the way.
The strongest of the 53 looks were the highly wearable plays on the "bar."
Cheekily, Simons turned it and other jackets into mini dresses – twinned with black uber-short shorts.
Straight H-lines and ball gowns were truncated, as were flared A-lines, often curved with deceptively complex mixes of pleats and godets a dash of Simons' own signature architecture.
Simons' has been swatting up.
Where Christian Dior loved garden flowers – here, Raf Simons delved even further into the bushes, bringing back in his jam-jar six sumptuous insect-inspired looks in silk and tulle.
One pink and blue loose A-line used tulle and embroidery to create the translucent veins of an insect wing.
Another beautiful, subtle touch was an orange embroidered organza dress with the delicate patterning of a butterfly wing.
It was details like this that made this collection fly so freely and so high.
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