Film Choice… Dior and I

Film Choice… Dior and I

It’s the documentary luxury fashion devotees have been holding out for. And they won’t be disappointed.

The world of haute couture has always been wildly elusive. No one really knows how it all works and even who the super-rich clients are. For this reason, the upcoming fashion documentary Dior and I, which promises to lift the lid on couture at the prolific French fashion house, is pretty hotly anticipated.

Filmed during the creation of new artistic director Raf Simons’ first haute couture collection in the spring of 2012, the director Frédéric Tcheng was granted unprecedented behind-the-scenes access. The results are revealing to say the least.

With only eight weeks for Simons to create his debut collection, as opposed to the five to six months it usually takes, we get to see a very raw side to the fashion house. The pressure on the former Jil Sander creative director is immense - not least because he has never worked in haute couture before. At one point in the film we hear Simons confess, “I find it quite challenging to work with a legacy that is so gigantic and so sublime.” And who could blame him? The fashion brand is, and was, a huge deal. When Christian Dior burst onto the fashion scene in 1947, he became an instant hit. The silhouette created by him was such a departure from the boxy wartime outfits of the time that Harper’s Bazaar dubbed it the “New Look” and it became the fashion reference for the following decade. By 1949, Dior counted for 75 percent of Paris fashion exports, and 5 percent of all French exports.

Simons comes across as quite a shy character but wins us over as we watch his couture journey unfold. There are tears along the way – at one point we see Simons weeping on a rooftop, overcome before the first models even walk – but it’s witnessing this very personal, human side that makes this film resonate.

The film focuses heavily on the work of the tireless seamstresses in the ateliers (workrooms). Seeing the bonds that form between them all along the way is interesting in itself. As Simons discovers when he first visits the light-filled rooms on the top floor of the building, many seamstresses have worked here for more than 40 years. For an industry that is cloaked in mystery, Dior and I may not let us in on everything we’d like to know. You’d need a six-part instalment to do that. But it brings us one step closer to understanding this very niche world. For that reason, it’s a must-view for any fashion devotee.

UK release – 27th March 2015