In April 2012 Raf Simons was hired as the creative director of Christian Dior. He then had eight weeks to put together the 2012 spring collection. Dior and I captures the ups, and downs, of this very short time period.
Simons was known for his menswear collections, and for putting his own personal stamp on fashion label Jil Sander, so it sent shockwaves through the fashion industry when he was appointed as the new creative director of one of the most iconic of French fashion brands - Christian Dior. And Simons had big shoes to follow, not just in name but in scandal and reputation. He was replacing John Galliano, who was fired for making anti-semitic remarks in a Paris bar. Also, Simons didn't at the time speak fluent French, he is from Belgium, but Dior owner Bernard Arnault and fellow LMVH (Dior's parent company) executives wanted to move away from the Galliano years and inject new blood into their iconic brand, so they hired Simons. So this 90 minute documentary takes us from Simons' first days at work, meeting the mostly French staff while having someone translate his speech into French, to working closely with two of the most important women in the company - the 'premieres' - Florence Chehet and Monique Bailly - the women who are in charge of the staff, which include the seamstresses, basically the people who make the dresses what they are and what they become. Simons also brings in his assistant of over ten years - Pieter Mulier - who does speak French and gets on better with the staff, and premieres, then Simons does.
Dior and I takes us through the taut and stressful short time period in which Simons has to put together a collection. As anyone in the fashion world knows, 8 weeks is not enough time to get a whole collection ready, from ideas to drawing up designs to getting the dresses actually made to getting them ready for the runway (it usually takes six months). Simons insists that some of the dresses he wants to make be identical to paintings from one of his favorite painters. He also asks the dedicated seamstresses to remove beads from the front of one gown, even when it takes them all night to do so. It's this drama, of Simons and his team having to produce a haute couture collection, intermingled with 68 years of historic Dior footage, that has earned Dior and I the great reviews that it has received. And at the end, we are treated to footage of the fashion show, which takes place in an old empty house where Simons has the walls covered in flowers in front of a star studded crowd including Donatella Versace, Selma Hayek, Sharon Stone, and more emotionally, his parents. And the dresses, wow, they are simply stunning. Dior and I is also stunning. It will give the viewer an understanding of what it takes to make a collection and how the whole process works, and more importantly, the vision of one man and his large team who made it happen.