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Dior-and-i-movie-review-raf-simons
CIM Productions

MOVIE REVIEW
Dior and I (2014)

Frédéric Tcheng’s documentary “Dior and I” juxtaposes the compressed first eight weeks of Belgian designer Raf Simons’s reign as incoming creative director at the fashion house of Dior — from the announcement of his appointment to the runway of his first haute couture collection — with founder Christian Dior’s preparation for his own 1947 “New Look” collection (as recounted in passages from his 1956 memoir, “Christian Dior and I”).

Although Mr. Simons is the obvious draw, the “I” in the film’s title could also refer to the many unsung heroines and heroes at the fashion house, especially the designers, tailors and dress makers working in the atelier that execute his vision.

The most interesting aspect here is Mr. Simons’s unconventional work method. Those who got their introduction to fashion design through “Project Runway” are probably in for a huge surprise: Trained as an industrial designer, he doesn’t even sketch. Instead, he finds inspiration through pictures, clippings and art. But a fraud he is most certainly not. He offers a succession of genius strokes from helping refine his team’s designs to lining the walls of his first runway venue with fresh flowers. Some of the exquisite materials and shapes he thinks up are literally breathtaking.

Mr. Simons dutifully studied the label’s archival sketches, fabric swatches and dresses, and even paid a visit to Dior’s childhood home. But Mr. Tcheng doesn’t quite establish a parallel between Dior the designer and Mr. Simons, even if the sitting creative director apparently experienced a little déjà vu himself as he read the Dior memoir. Dior sounds sensitive in his own words, while Mr. Simons seems scientific and at times aloof. It’s not until the day of the runway show that Mr. Simons shows signs of sensitivity: Perhaps the momentous occasion finally got to him.

DIOR AND I

Opens on March 27, 2015 in Britain and on April 10, 2015 in Manhattan

Written and directed by Frédéric Tcheng; director of photography, Gilles Piquard; edited by Julio C. Perez IV and Mr. Tcheng; music by Ha-Yang Kim; produced by Mr. Tcheng and Guillaume de Roquemaurel; released by Dogwoof (Britain) and the Orchard (United States). In French, English and Flemish, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 29 minutes. This film is rated 12A by B.B.F.C. and not rated by M.P.A.A.

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