Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Marion Cotillard were expected: but Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Cindy Sherman, Diane von Furstenberg and Leelee Sobieski showed up to Dior's Spring 2013 front row. Leelee Sobieski? When was the last time she appeared in a movie - 2002? Pretty much everything about Raf Simons' first ready-to-wear show for the Parisian house was curious, particularly following both his Dior couture blockbuster this summer - and his final show for Jil Sander, which was Fall 2012 (selling out in the stores now).
What made the Belgian Simons so amazing as Jil Sander was his love of calm simplicity with a suprise of incredible shapes - long peplum skirts, big full skirts - and a mastery of color. When Simons used fluorescents - before anybody in the last few years - his pinks and oranges were matched up with white t shirts and were always refined. His Dior couture show was a fab shock of color - Julianne Moore's yellow Emmy dress is a great example. But everything was still ladylike, wearable, flattering - and grown up in a way only Parisians can be.
Dior spring 2013 ready to wear is - quite frankly - all over the map. The first thing they teach you in design school about the word "collection" is that, in fashion terms, it means one thing and one thing only: COHESIVE. There are throughlines in collections - fabrics, prints, themes, moods, trends. Almost every piece reflects the mood and feeling of the others - even is one is a stately trouser and the other an eveninggown.
Simons' did black suits that were ever so reminiscent of YSL's Le Smokings - which is weird, because the press keeps pitting him against new YSL designer Hedi Slimane. Was this Simons' way of playing on the real or faux competition? Then he did a group of very very short black dresses - LBD's are always great and highly desired - but most of these are so short that certainly Jennifer Lawrence and Leelee Sobieski - both tall - will not be wearing them. Nor will Natalie Portman. Will he cut them longer for sales? We hope so. There's a short trend afoot for spring, for sure - but 18 year old girls can't afford Dior. Then Simons went even shorter with a group of silk pastel bunched up tops - perhaps they're dresses? - with tiny black shorts under them. They might look chic on 90 pound models - might - but we can't imagine a real human going anywhere in these. Maybe Kate Moss could make this work. Even on her, they're not age appropriate.
The dresses that were close to knee length or sometimes longer were often awkward - covered in net or overlays, with side ruffles or sequins - and they were just rather weird. The colors were all over the map - rust, orange, pink, red, grey tweed. Several dresses went with the ubiquitous stripe trend - but Simons did it in pink satin and black. How did this refer to the other pieces? The last group was what he's known best for - fitted black bodices with enormous ballgown skirts in pretty and unexpected florals. Marion Cotillard will undoubtedly show up in one of these very soon - but Jennifer Lawrence has already donned this silhouette. This fit and mega-flare seems a bit played out now.
And the reviews? Mixed, as expected. It might take a couple of collections for Simons to get surer footing. We'll certainly be looking forward to seeing his January couture - no doubt, that will be the stuff of Globes and Oscar looks. We were missing them here. There's not a real Hollywood look in sight . . .for now.