Dior does not do things in a small way. For its spring 2016 show, the house erected a hill-like structured covered in some half a million blue and lilac delphiniums in the back courtyard (Cour Carrée) of the Louvre. The space was harder to squeeze into than a hobbit hole, with publicists and security guards repeatedly clearing the way for VIP guests like Rihanna, Elizabeth Olsen and Emilia Clarke, who looked on from the front row.
From a slope covered in yet more delphiniums, Israeli model Sofia Mechetner emerged in a white scalloped cotton top and matching shorts, her neck wrapped in a silk scarf and a jeweled choker. The look set the tone for the rest of the show, which was airy, feminine and restrained in its simplicity. Scalloped edges were a recurring obsession, appearing on cropped sweaters and more white cotton tops and shorts, which were layered under diaphanous organza dresses in stripes of pale pink, apricot and lilac. Suiting figured prominently, too; the house's signature "Bar" jackets were sinuously tailored, their lower regions inventively pleated in black silk, and straight-leg trousers were cut high at the waist. Embellishment was almost totally absent, confined to the embroidered flowers on a pair of off-white coats and the sheer diagonal panels of a handful of silk separates. Again, the emphasis was on simplicity and femininity, without (as Raf Simons expressed in his show notes) "sacrificing strength and purpose."
It was a beautiful show — one that had more than one editor in my section raving that it was the best thing they'd seen this season. But what really struck me was how simple it was, how clearly Simons was able to articulate so much without resorting to costume or exaggeration or elaborate styling tricks. That, and how modern — and yet unmistakably Dior — it looked. Rare is the designer who can bridge a house's history to the present in such a way.