To say that former Jil Sander designer extraordinaire Raf Simons' first Christian Dior Haute Couture show in Paris this week would be a hot ticket is like saying we thought Magic Mike would do well with the female audience. It's a no-brainer, c'est vrai. But some like it crazy hot: Simons' inaugural Dior show might have had Anna Wintour, Marion Cotillard and Jennifer Lawrence -- but it also had Marc Jacobs, Lanvin's Alber Elbaz, Donatella Versace, Christopher Kane, Pierre Cardin, Diane von Furstenberg, Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci, the reclusive Azzedine Alaia himself -- and Olivier Theyskens.
We can count on two hands the amount of times designers have attended other designers' fashion shows -- maybe 10 in the past 20 years. They're usually way too busy putting their own shows together. But in this group, only Donatella and Tisci are also doing couture lines in Paris this week, and Versace's was a hit as usual. Alaia is considered the greatest of all Paris designers, and he stays out of the limelight and out of the Paris fashion social whirl completely. To have him show up, along with Elbaz, is a real honor for Simons. Particularly considering that Jacobs, Elbaz and Tisci -- probably considered design's greatest creative troika, outside of Karl Lagerfeld -- were all offered the Dior top job before Simmons finally agreed to take it.
This shows the power right now of Simons over other designers -- and the power of Dior. Some are calling the Belgian designer's his first couture show "The New New Look," referring to the famed Christian Dior New Look postwar collection of 1947, where Monsieur Dior himself created the famed "Bar jacket," which Simons did many riffs on here. Dior also showed peplum looks and full skirts in the New Look, which Simons also referenced. There are signs of his last three Jil Sander blockbusters here -- but they were all so beautiful, it's worth keeping some of these ideas alive. Giant ballgown skirts streamed with fabric flowers? Formidable!
Who will be the first actress to wear Dior couture by Simons? Our vote is Cotillard -- and she might be wearing it in the next few weeks to promote The Dark Knight Rises -- or later on, during awards season, for her role in Rust and Bone, said to be Oscar worthy by many who saw it at Cannes in May. After all, she promotes handbags and scent for Dior, as do Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis.
But the real jury will come in the form of the media, when Simons shows his first Dior ready-to-wear show in October in Paris. And then customers will have the real vote with his spring 2013 collection.