Documentaries are a love affair for me. The ultimate career goal is to be a documentary filmmaker. Last night I couldn’t sleep so I finally decided to watch Dior and I on Netflix. I added it to my watch list a while ago, saving it for sometime when I would have sole control of the remote, so to speak.
The 2012 film follows the process of Dior Ateliers and Artistic Director Raf Simon as they create his first collection for Dior in just 8 weeks. All the elements that go into the completion of the collection are covered including a bit of testiness on the part of the designer and a stubbornness on the part of the house. Having worked in theatre and other events I can say that if you get through a production of any kind without some of this it’s most likely that no one is really invested. Interwoven through the “action” of the film are photographs and voiceovers of Christian Dior— the dialog from his autobiography. These provide balance and establish a counter point between the history and the continued development of the house.
Below are some highlights from the Fall 2012 Collection:
I quite enjoyed watching this film; it was well shot and edited. The film was visually pleasing, which might not sound difficult given the subject matter, but watching someone make a dress is not nearly as beautiful as the finished product. The way that filmmaker Frédéric Tcheng is able to make what is a very painstaking and slow process seem breathless is a feat. Of course, the slow and grinding process of creating Haute Couture is equaled in the pressure and exactitude of the job. It’s amazing to see the level of detail that goes into creating one article of clothing.
The “characters” of the film were very engaging- they work together like a well oiled machine. The different personalities of the Ateliers were really highlighted by the film, making investment in the outcome easier. There was less of Raf Simons in the film than I anticipated, although his reputation for avoiding the spotlight is apparently true. More than anyone else I found Pieter, whom Raf calls his “right hand man”, to be appealing. He has a great sense of humor and what seems to be an unparalleled work ethic. He was so charming and really pulled the film together.
Obviously, I can’t afford “Haute Couture”— I’m all for it, but too poor. I’m still interested in the idea and the process. I remember in 2102 when Raf Simon’s first collection appeared in Vogue. I’m sure he would be disappointed to know that it was the Dior throwback/ inspired floral pieces that caught my attention rather than the more modern attempts. Funnily enough, the collection had mixed reviews— many of them claimed the work was boring and some went so far as to say they looked cheap. It was interesting to watch the film now, in 2016, after Simons has stepped down as Artistic Director. He did make Dior a lot of money, but during his entire run many were still unhappy with his work. Repeatedly in the film he claims to be attempting to shed his label of “minimalist”, but that does not seem to be the real issue. The issue is a mindset of menswear vs womenswear. I don’t think he really switched gears enough to make the move. So much of his work still pushes women towards androgyny or masculinity rather than fully embracing the feminine calling card that was so important to Christian Dior’s work.
The filmmaker has completed other documentaries that I am interested in seeing, namely Valentino: The Last Emperor for which he was nominated for an Oscar. If you have seen either film, comment on what you thought of them.
Below are some of my favorite Dior pieces created with Simons as Artistic Director of the House: