Saturday, May 9, 2015

Dior and I (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Dior and I

The most arresting aspect about the documentary "Dior and I" by editor- turned-director Frederic Tcheng is its emphasis of the legendary designer that floats like a poltergeist, both in shadow and above the famous fashion house. It is 2015 and the Dior house needs a shot in the arm.

Enter Raf Simons, a stubbled man in black who is all business. Deep in the bowels of Paris, whispering is heard. It is said that Simons is a "minimalist" who brought back the slender black suit, a kind of cyberspace chic. There are those who talk but for the most part  Simons is fawned over and welcomed as a Steve Jobs of haute couture. As he says, it is the future that he romanticizes, not the past.

Simons looks to the stars, or more specifically to build a collection on the moon.

The Dior, with its white coated premieres, approach cloth like scientists and that is precisely what they are: technicians, engineers of female curves and blossoming design.

Most of the men and women who design are driven and obsessive always under the gun of the clock: fingers tracing and rolling---painting with stitches and force.

At the center of this stress is the newly hired Simons who is voraciously visual but who apparently doesn't physically draw a line, but rather builds detailed files on the Dior's Mac computer.  Simons never sleeps. He frets, scratches and dreams.

In the film, he is a walking magic marker, a man of felt and graphite who draws invisibly and prints mental pictures.

At night, the lights flicker and the aura of Christian Dior emanates through every window and each fold and crease of cloth. The documentary masterfully shows Dior as an Orwellian phantom taking shape from a pale dress. Anxious and wistful passages from his memoir are heard in which Dior regrets treating someone harshly.

These are some of the film's best segments.

Day breaks and Raf Simons visits Dior's house. Simons admits that he can't bear to read Dior's memoir. He wants a new brush technique applied to the fabric that will be taken from the paintings of Sterling Ruby. He is vexed by every turn it seems, and Simons grows increasingly tense. Is Christian Dior a saboteur spirit, or a friendly magnetic field?

Perhaps his afterlife is both.

Simons emerges as a tireless worker in private and a wallflower in public. At the day  of the show, he is a candle of nerves and breaks down.

Simons refuses to go the full length of the catwalk.

Above all else, the skill of  "Dior and I" is in making the exclusive world of fashion accessible to all. Raf Simons is a master manipulator of both people and the natural world of flora, but he is never brutish or mean and we end up rooting for him, as an underdog, not to mention the superhuman seamstresses and premieres.

A final scene showing Weinstein and Sharon Stone gazing at the models as if they were bejeweled morsels of filet mignon is marvelous, as touching as it is disturbing.

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