Dior and I
Low-key, engaging documentary focusing on the iconic fashion house
There has been a small glut of fashion documentaries over recent years, and director Frédéric Tcheng has been involved with some of the best of them: he co-directed, wrote and edited the wonderful Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, and co-edited, shot and produced Valentino: The Last Emperor.
His first solo writing-directing project examines not so much an iconic figure as an iconic fashion house, Christian Dior, as it adjusts to the presence of a new creative director, the Belgian designer Raf Simons. Gossip hounds should be advised that the situation which preceded and precipitated Simons’ appointment – the dismissal of his predecessor, John Galliano, over a drunken fit of anti-semitic ranting in a Paris café – is kept out of the narrative entirely. Presumably this evasion is in line with the wishes of Dior, but it also suits the style of a film that favours a subtle portrait of the demands of the creative process over scandal-sniffing or melodrama.
Not that Simons’ challenges aren’t dramatic in their professional context: a ready-to-wear designer without haute couture experience, he has to hit the ground running and construct a collection worthy of a legendary fashion brand in only two months.
Tcheng contextualises Simons' decision to reference Dior’s past – the famous lines of the post-war 'New Look' – with passages from Christian Dior’s own memoirs. The resulting film is a low-key affair which, while it features many slyly observed moments and engaging personalities, suffers from the sense that it could have gone further and deeper about its subjects without losing its decorum. Still, anyone who appreciates craftsmanship and the pursuit of beauty will experience a thrill or two when the collection is presented. The flower-festooned set, however, is a bit much: even Anna Wintour, no particular advocate of austerity herself, comments, 'You didn’t have any budget issues, then...?'
Selected release from Fri 27 Mar.