Dior's Fashion

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Dior’s new creative director, Raf Simons, is a formidable and original talent, says Mark Holgate, but it’s also his sense of family and generosity of spirit that make him the man of the house. “And now we make her move. Are you ready for loud music?” With a wide, boyish grin that belies his 44 years, Raf Simons, creative director of Dior for barely six months, casually zaps a remote control toward two Bose Acoustic Wave sound systems stacked as if at some überunderground club in Berlin’s Mitte district. X-Press 2’s “Kill 100”  throbs with such intensity that you think the speakers might just raise the count to 102. Taking this as her cue, model Lida Fox, dressed in a trailing pale-pink and acid-yellow draped top over the tiniest of black shorts, walks down, up, down, up, down, up with the beat. All this is playing out in an elegant if somewhat anonymous white room buried deep in the Dior maison at 11 Rue François Premier, currently a makeshift atelier for Simons and his team: studio director, fellow Belgian, and colleague of the last eleven years Pieter Mulier; jewelry maven Camille Miceli; milliner Stephen Jones; and a dozen or so others. The atmosphere is one of intense concentration but, crucially, not neurotically so. We are barely a day or so into the spring 2013 collections, so it’s entirely imaginable that this scenario is enacting itself all over Paris; Dior isn’t the only house in town chasing beauty. Yet there’s an undeniable specificity to what’s happening here. Less than 24 hours from now, Simons will make his Dior debut at a specially constructed minimalist edifice in the shadow of the Baroque seventeenth-century Invalides on the Left Bank. This is a collision of Paris ancien and nouveau in more ways than one. Dior, an esteemed component of the French cultural establishment, and therefore of national pride, is relying on the belief that Simons will be the designer to rejuvenate its sense of beauty, and—a factor not to be underestimated—declare its...
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