Ever since the internet and social media allowed fashion content into our pockets, the number of behind the scenes documentaries about the fashion industry has multiplied. The September Issue sparked the interest in those recognised in glossy fashion week pictures, and recent film festivals have introduced us to niche fashion stories like Advanced Style and Scatter my Ashes at Bergdorf’s.
As far as showing unique insight into the creative direction of a fashion house, FrÃ©dÃ©ric Tcheng, director of Dior and I, has proven himself as having not only sympathy for creative types, but also the eye for detail to keep viewers watching the minutia of a fashion house. Starting out working on the magnificent Valentino: The Last Emperor before co-directing Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel, Tcheng looks set to be the go-to name in documenting the fashion world.
Raf Simons, being newly appointed as Dior’s creative director – eight weeks before the Haute Couture collection show in 2012, is the audience’s window into the world of the brand. The film title suggests a more traditional style of documentary, perhaps a linear journey from the brands inception til today. Instead, Tcheng shows us the agony and the ecstasy of the creative process. Those looking for a Dior history lesson are advised to check out the brand’s Wikipedia page; having an in-depth fashion knowledge is not necessary to find Dior and I engrossing.
The film compensates the lack of brand backstory by having moments of narration from the deceased Christian Dior, whose distinct eye set him apart from other designers at the beginning of his career in the late 1940s. Dior’s early designs, using excessively more fabric than was the post-war norm, is just one example testament to the look that cemented the luxury brand. Simons’ eye is no different, and throughout Dior and I the audience watches enraptured as he casually mentions art he would like to use on clothes for the couture show, while the staff ignore time ticking down. Sparing no expense seems to be tantamount to keeping up the image of luxury.
Fashion is an industry much mocked in popular culture and Dior and I certainly leaves room for the silliness of taking clothes seriously; from seamstresses popping candy for energy, to Simons agonizing over his end of show wave. These are the fly-on-the-wall moments that humanises what can be perceived to be a cold industry for only those who have won the genetic lottery (the recent Zoolander star appearance on the Valentino runway is an example of the fashion industries’ sense of humour, as well as ingenuity). However, the knack for creative design remains just as elusive. Simons, who has been well regarded in the fashion industry since the 90s, and who left Jil Sander for Dior, shows on screen exactly why he’s the man for the job in this case.
While there are no interviews outside of the fashion house, there are a number of celebrity ‘cameos’, in the form of attendance at the couture preview. Marion Cotillard (the current face of the brand), Sharon Stone, Anna Wintour and Jennifer Lawrence are all given screen time looking adoringly at the catwalk. Though by the time they appear, enough blood, sweat and tears have already been shown on screen to know who truly deserves our adoration.
THE REEL SCORE: 6/10