"Dior and I"
Release Date: May 1, 2015
Running Time: 89 minutes
It’s not easy to replace a legend, even one who has been dead for almost 60 years. Director Frédéric Tcheng’s (Chang) documentary Dior and I offers an insider’s view of new Christian Dior artistic director Raf Simons’ exhaustive efforts in 2012 to prepare his first haute couture collection in just eight weeks. Tcheng takes a workman-like approach to capturing the confident but slightly anxious Belgian’s endeavors to maintain the French fashion house’s traditions and high standards established by its founder while Simons works to remain true to his own creative vision. Tcheng even goes as far as to juxtapose Simons’ first months on the job against the struggles that Dior faced during his transformation from designer to iconic brand name. He’s sparing in his use of archival footage and voiceover readings from Dior’s memoirs, but the sum total does ensure that the fashion designer’s presence is felt throughout the documentary. Less successful is Tcheng’s attempt to squeeze any tension from Simons’ race against the clock. He initially implies that Simons may struggle to win over Dior’s long-serving haute couture ateliers as well as the loyal clients who pay a small fortune for its sophisticated, feminine clothing. Not only did Simons earn his reputation in ready to wear but, as New York Times fashion journalist Cathy Horyn notes, he’s a minimalist. The documentary, though, finds little tension in the working relationship between Simons and his new staff. Indeed, the only time Simons seems to get upset appears to be heightened for dramatic purposes. His anger isn’t really directed at the ateliers but at the managers who place a greater importance on pleasing Dior’s customers over the artistic director’s needs. Even the last-minute changes Simons requests of his ateliers do not seem outrageous. Also, Simons isn’t a particular engaging subject for a documentary. He doesn’t possess a colorful personality that draws you immediately to him, and while his marriage of art and fashion prove intriguing, Tcheng fails to captures the essence of the man and his work. Tcheng does better connecting Dior’s celebrated past to its present and future through his interactions with the dedicated, industrious ateliers who execute Simons’ artistic vision. Dior’s clothes may make the woman but it is the ateliers who make Dior and I.
Aired: April 30, 2015
Web site: http://www.diorandimovie.com/