Raf Simons brought the most beautiful breath of spring to snowy Paris for his second haute couture collection for Christian Dior. "I wanted to do a very self-explanatory collection this season," he said. "I wanted it to literally be about the season; to be about the very idea of spring."
And so the designer installed a verdant garden in a specially designed pavilion in the Jardin des Tuileries. Models walked through the topiary like the living embodiment of darling buds in clothes that started out restrained and even muted before blossoming brilliantly into full, vibrant bloom.
Jewelled dresses ballooned like the upturned heads of tulips, skirts were narrow then fluted from knee to ankle and reminiscent of waxen lilies. If the delicate embroideries - layer upon layer of silk petals; clusters of tiny pansies - were the essence of haute couture and French dressing more broadly, the rigour of tailoring - narrow jackets, cigarette legged trousers - were signature Simons. This fusion is an inspiring one: a mix of unadulterated whimsy and discipline, of romance and pragmatism.
Dior-clad Sigourney Weaver, Carole Bouquet, Rosamund Pike and Jessica Alba, in pride of place front row, then backstage to congratulate the designer, demonstrated all of that in spades.
Mr Simons is on a roll: this was a simple but wonderfully realised concept and the attention to detail was nothing short of exquisite but these were clothes that are ultimately designed to be worn.
If sales figures are anything to go by the couture client, too, is happy doing just that. Dior CEO Sidney Toledano last week reported a double-digit growth in sales telling Women's Wear Daily that the house's famous ateliers remained open over Christmas and New Year to finish burgeoning orders. The last word goes to Simons: "There is a sense of the collection growing and changing from where we started last season," he said, "yet still always with a sense of continuity and reality for the wearer."