'I see this collection as almost abstract,' said Raf Simons of his exquisitely light and lovely fourth haute couture show for Dior: it's almost two years now since he was appointed creative director of women's wear of this great French house. 'I wanted to focus on the idea of intimacy around couture more than anything else, the emotional experience of it; the relationship between the clients, the salon, the women.'
Perhaps for that reason, the clothes in question were shown against a backdrop of small, inter-connecting pale and gently curvaceous pods. Simons described the interior as 'a radical, female gesture.' This, like the clothes, was imbued with the sense of being sculpted 'by the human hand.'
And the touch of some of the world's most accomplished seamstresses was also very much in evidence throughout: in layer upon layer of delicate flower embroideries, in veils of appliqued chiffon and in intricate pleats and folds.
Restricting his colour palette to white, off-white, black and ink blue with just the odd appearance of flesh pink and pale green, Simons viewpoint was as effortlessly contemporary as it was respectful of the mid-twentieth century glory days of haute couture. The latter could be seen in sack backs, dramatic trains, tulip dresses, the iconic New Look line and the Dior Bar jacket. None of the great couturiers of that period would ever have imagined micro-shorts - so sweet - jumpsuits or indeed a vest and trouser combination the silhouette of which was almost sporty: its surface was as densely embroidered as the most au fait couture client might wish for nonetheless.
Pro FROWers Anna Dello Russo and Kate Bosworth arrive at the Dior show [Getty]
While this offering was far from minimal - Simons' work has often been described in that way but it only really applies to his time at the helm of Jil Sander - there was a mood of purity and freshness and, perhaps most importantly, an expression of the sensuality of the finest fabrics against skin.
Despite a still unstable economic climate, 'People are appreciating the savoir faire, even the new generation of high-tech people,' Dior CEO Sidney Toledano told Women's Wear Daily last week. A rise in clients in their 30s and 40s, many of them in the entertainment industry, all wishing to invest in clothes entirely made by hand and fitted to suit the individual customer's every need, is boosting Dior's business. 'They want the best of the best,' Toledano said and they are prepared to pay for it. They won't be disappointed.
In a bid to extend the brand's reach still further and despite the fact that the haute couture season is the most rarefied on the fashion calendar, with a single garment costing five or even six figure sums, Dior staged an extra show this time around attended by employees and by 80 lucky fashion students flown in from colleges around the world. The initiative is about 'sharing, transmitting and motivating,' Toledano said.