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State of the Art
Aja Mangum | Photo: Sophie Carre | June 25, 2013
With a nod to Andy Warhol, the house of Christian Dior takes a surrealistic turn for fall.
Fresh off the high heels of outfitting Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence in a—literally—show-stopping gown on the red carpet, the House of Dior was riding high at Paris Fashion Week this past spring. After the ousting of John Galliano prompting Raf Simons’ design debut during fall 2012 couture—which was well received by critics—the fashion world was eager to see which direction this designer was going to take the label next.
To simply say the fall collection is inspired by art would be an understatement—almost an injustice. Simons is an avid contemporary art collector; pre-fashion, Dior was a gallerist for Salvador Dalí and Alberto Giacometti. It’s this synergy and period of time in Dior’s life that sparked Simons’ use of Andy Warhol’s hand-drawn prints from the 1950s.
“Everything we did this season was drawn by the human hand,” Simons explains. “That linked to the idea of symbolism, memory and embroidery that’s prevalent in the lineup. I suddenly started to think about the hand in Warhol’s early work, the sensitivity and femininity of it.” Simons’ inspirational idea was translated by using an Inkjet printing process known for its “advantages of excellent accuracy and surface finishes” to print Warhol’s “Unidentified Female” on white bustier dresses, while artisans painstakingly hand-embroidered the artist’s High Heel drawings on accessories.
“For me Warhol made so much sense. I was interested in the delicacy and sensitivity in the early work he did, and I was drawn to that graphic style naturally in this collection,” says Simons. However, the Warhol influence wasn’t merely represented in the collection, but in the backdrop as well. To create a notion of surrealism and pop, Magritte-style clouds surrounded giant mirrored balloons in the gallery, which clearly resembles Warhol’s creative and celebrity watering hole, The Factory. To create this replica, it took three weeks of design and mounting at Les Invalides Place Vauban and was installed in a box constructed just for the show, including 15 giant ovoid balls that were 13 to almost 20 feet in diameter; more than 16,000 square feet of printed cloud fabric; and more than 3,000 feet of mirror fabric.
The entirety had an effect much like profound artwork: a thought-provoking, exuberating experience.