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Dior showed its first main season collection without a creative director today in Paris. Raf Simons departed the French fashion house "for personal reasons" in late October, following the spring 2016 fashion show.
It took about 30 seconds for the rumor mill to go into overdrive. Would Sarah Burton, currently at Alexander McQueen, replace Simons? What about Alber Elbaz, who had a rough split from Lanvin just a week after Simons left Dior? Or Phoebe Philo, who is endlessly rumored to be leaving Celine.
But while fashion gossiped, Dior's design team had to turn out two collections — pre-fall and couture — without a public-facing leader. Both were more than fine; couture was great, even. Friday's show, the fall 2016 collection, paid homage to house staples, offered plenty of commercially-viable pieces without sacrificing visual interest, and was largely good-looking, but, as a whole, fell flat.
Did you see Dior and I? (If you haven't, it's a 90 minute, well worth-it commitment on Netflix.) I can picture the funny, hardworking characters of the atelier, some of whom have been at Dior for double the time I've been on this planet, banding together and pouring even more of themselves in to these collaborative collections. But, ultimately, the group needs hierarchy, needs a singular voice that directs the current.
Fashion is a business of art and commerce; it takes emotion to drive the bottom line. Without a creative visionary pushing the pedal, we have nice clothes — and there were nice! clothes! — but nothing that forces your eyes, and mind, open (one time Raf changed my mind on leopard print). Or, when it's really fantastic, makes your heart swell.