DIOR AND I – a documentary film about the Christian Dior house by Fre’de’ric Tcheng
“Dior and I” a film by Fre’de’ric Tcheng opened in Los Angeles and select cities nationwide on April 17. This leisurely paced yet captivating documentary takes the viewer inside the Spring 2012 arrival of designer Raf Simons’ to the storied fashion house Christian Dior and his task of creating his debut haute couture collection for the iconic brand.
Simons, historically a low profile minimalist menswear designer is an outlier choice to lead Dior, having never worked in haute couture. With great scrutiny, he steps into the incredibly public spotlight and the task of finding his voice within the 60 plus year history of Dior.
We are given an unprecedented peek into the day-to-day work of the design house from the perspectives of the new artistic director to the company’s lifelong employees, some with 40-year tenures. These include the appealing and unflappable Florence Chehet, the première for the atelier flou (for dresses), and the sharp and anxious Monique Bailly, première for the atelier tailleur (for suiting), and their seamstresses and workers. The bonds of these many hands and hearts are explored firsthand as they deftly, sometimes around the clock, hand-stitch, bead and shape the collection like a symphony conducted by their new visionary, Simons.
The eight weeks covered from Simons’ arrival to the final maddening moments leading up to the collection’s Paris Fashion Week show are entrancing to watch. The accomplishment is nothing short of Herculean in that most collections take up to six months from concept to completion.
The film is haunted by the ghost of Christian Dior, who some of the atelier’s staff believe literally walks the halls of workshops. Simons is followed by his own version of this specter in the legacy of Dior as an artist who never wanted to be in the spotlight but whose genius work offered no alternative but fame. Simons, a similarly private man, is reverent in seeking to honor the legacy for whom he creates, even visiting Dior’s childhood home in Granville, Normandy. And finally, like his predecessor, he must take the stage for his own applause fueled bow.
We step into Simons’ artistic mind as stories follow his inspirations such as painter Ruby Sterling’s work being woven into fabrics demanding innovation from his suppliers, all under the gun of his incredible deadline. His vision come true for the staging of his inaugural show is nothing short of awesome to watch.
Eight fashion-filled and sometimes crazed weeks come to you in a very manageable and inspiring 89 minutes.
For showtimes in LA and more information, visit http://www.diorandimovie.com
Reviewed by Wes Stevens