'Dior & I' Film Review

Raf Simons: a name synonymous with 'creative genius' and one of the most influential designers of this generation. The outstanding film 'Dior & I' documents the months leading up to the Belgian designer's debut collection as creative director at one of of the world's few remaining French haute couture houses, Dior. Interlaced with memoirs of Christian Dior himself, the documentary presents a never before seen glimpse at the inner workings of Dior and the unparalleled brilliance that is Raf Simons. 

With just 8 weeks to create Dior's Fall 2012 haute couture collection, Simons was under incredible pressure to live up to the incomparable legacy of the house. Leading a team of talented premieres, tailors, seamstresses and fabric engineers that he barely knew, Simons had to overcome both language and personal barriers in order to make his vision a reality. 'Dior & I' shows just how much thought, energy, technicality, ingenuity, skill and sheer hard work goes in to creating exquisite garments, some of which individually take over 700 hours and twenty people to complete.

To be listed as a haute couture house by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, strict requirements must be met including designing made-to-order garments for private clients with one or more fittings, having an atelier (workshop) in Paris that employs at least 20 staff members full-time and presenting a collection of at least 50 original designs comprising of both day and evening garments in January and July each year. Christian Dior is one of the few haute couture houses that remains today.

What intrigued me the most was Simons' creative process. He is a designer that doesn't sketch and yet his ideas literally blossom into stunning tangible pieces, hand-sewn from start to finish. 'Dior & I' takes us on Simons' artistic journey as he draws inspiration from contemporary art, commissions impossibly technical fabric-printing which has even the experts skeptical and brings to life the spirit of Christian Dior with a runway made up of multiple rooms covered floor to ceiling with freshly cut flowers.

The film also lets us in on some of Simons' personal struggles; his preconceived status as a 'minimalist' designer and the fear that comes with trying to find your voice when faced with such a profound legacy as Christian Dior's. Simons visits Dior's childhood home and reveals the strange similarities he felt to Dior when reading his memoirs. In fact, Simons found it so strange that he had to stop reading until his first collection was shown.

The seamstresses claim that the ghost of Christian Dior still visits the atelier after they leave each night, to check that their designs are up to his standards. The loyalty and commitment of the seamstresses is a true highlight of the film, some of them having learned their craft at Dior, working at the legendary house for over 40 years. 

'Dior & I' is a must-see for all fashion lovers and creatives. It is truly educational, inspirational, emotional and uplifting. It will have an exclusive release at Palace Centro Cinemas in Brisbane and opens on March 26. For your chance to win tickets to a special advanced screening courtesy of Madman Entertainment, head over to The Fashion Heist for details.


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