On Thursday night, New York's Tribeca Film Festival opened with "Dior and I," a documentary by Frédéric Tcheng, who previously worked on "Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel" and "Valentino: The Last Emperor." While "Dior and I" lacks the colons of Tcheng's previous fashion films, it does offer a similarly dramatic and fascinating behind-the-scenes look at one of the industry's great masters: Raf Simons, whom it follows from his very first day at Dior to his first couture show, which took place only two months later.
It's a film that you should definitely see for a few reasons: For one, it feels very realistic in the way it depicts what happens when a new designer joins a storied fashion house and how a couture collection comes about (which is particularly interesting when said designer has never done couture before) -- as well as how it shows the balance between art and commerce (we see Simons arguing with director of haute couture, Catherine Rivière, who sent a top member of Dior's atelier to assist a client in New York, which made his dresses late for a fitting. He was not happy.). There are some truly real, intense moments, and there are even some tears. But there are funny moments, too: Like just about every scene involving those absurd flower walls, and when a seamstress develops a crush on Simons's gay assistant.
Unfortunately, one thing made all of it feel a bit less authentic: There was no mention whatsoever of John Galliano or Yves Saint Laurent or any of Dior's previous designers, aside from Christian Dior himself. Throughout the film, Tcheng used voice overs of poet Omar Berrada reciting lines from Dior's autobiography to draw parallels between Simons and the house's founder.
Last night, when asked by an audience member if the seamstresses (who feature heavily in the film) ever discussed what it was like working with John Galliano, Tcheng admitted that they did, and said Simons was "completely different." He continued, "Raf and his team are so precise -- the sketches are by the millimeter and I think Galliano was working in a very different way." However, he decided not to include these tidbits in the film because "we were so caught up in Raf's collection that there was little time to discuss previous designers."
The film needn't dedicate a lot of time to previous designers; that would take away from Simons's story. But to completely ignore the existence of Galliano -- who's firing opened the door for Simons in the first place -- just felt odd.