'I was interested in the process of finding something extremely modern through something very historical,' Raf Simons stated of his haute couture collection for Christian Dior. 'What I was attracted to was an idea of architectural construction - that is a very Dior attitude - and how the foundations of one era are based on another, how the future is based on the past.' Shown in an optic white cylinder and against a mirrored backdrop densely covered with tens of thousands of freshly cut white orchids the clothes were a spectacularly lovely expression of just that.
The glorious setting of the Christian Dior show [Getty]
First out was a feather light and pared back take on the Eighteenth Century pannier dress. Its flower-like skirt bounced beautifully in pale and interesting shades with nothing but a sprig of blossom embroidered here, a zip fastening there disrupting its purely feminine form. Next were flight suits embellished and cut in fabrics more readily associated with French eveningwear: think the most eased and utilitarian take on haute couture imaginable.
In Raf Simons' hands tailoring has found its way back onto the map: slender black coats were loosely based on an Edwardian line with a voluminous sleeve, perhaps, or a cleverly re-imagined lapel.
This was a huge collection, both in terms of the number of exits and the breadth and scale of ideas: the Dior Bar jacket was, once again given a makeover - it looked sensational - the designer's reinvention of 1920s flapper dress was especially brilliant in brightest blue.
Dior Haute Couture Autumn Winter 2014 [Getty]
Since his arrival at Dior Raf Simons has not only nurtured the impeccable skills of the petites mains who staff the haute couture ateliers to suit his contemporary needs, he has also introduced a whole new idea of wardrobe to this great French name. Of course, the more obviously elaborate pieces will find their way onto the red carpet not long from now. Perhaps even more impressive though is the fact that a woman for whom budget is no object can shop here for everything from a perfectly cut pair of trousers - in apricot or emerald green - to a cashmere sweater and black trouser suit and rest safe in the knowledge that she will be the most elegantly dressed person in the room.