09/27/2013 04:16 EDT | Updated 11/27/2013 05:12 EST

Raf Simons takes Christian Dior against nature in exotic Paris show

PARIS - "Against Nature" was the title of Raf Simons' experimental Christian Dior spring-summer 2014 show, presented in a tent within Paris' Rodin Museum.

As the first guest ducked under low drooping vines to glimpse the display of the many thousands of vividly colored exotic flowers that hung from make-shift metal scaffolding, the show's theme was immediately seen to echo in the decor.

This flora — in unnaturally lurid colours — had no place growing inside a tent. But the flowers were just the backdrop of Simons' combative and colorful creative mission: To form "a new tribe of flower women" and to "change the very nature of things."

Boldly, Simons intended to engage with and go against the DNA of the Dior house itself. When the show opened with a black bar jacket slashed at the sides, his intentions were clear.

This was followed by a series of classic Dior archive lantern dresses had slashed looped pleats, thrown off kilter either in glaring blue or rebellious printed text underneath.

Elsewhere, pleating was used excessively, and abstractedly, in diagonal movements that defined the silhouette of a pale pink or blue silk skirt.

"Skorts," a pair of shorts resembling a skirt, came in dazzling multicolours.

He was certainly taking risks.

Simons said he'd designed a collection where the "lyrically romantic becomes dangerous, a beautiful rose garden becomes poisonous."

An inverted tulip shaped silk skirt had a floaty silhouette — but this came in bright yellow silk below a black top: Mother Nature's colour code for danger.

There were plenty of ingenious DNA subversions at work here and almost all of the 76 looks made a great statement.

But the small problem was just that: 76 looks was perhaps too much, and with Simons' overactive brain it felt at times that he was trying to say too much in one show.

But then again, Simons' mission is not a small one: to evolve the house and "propel Dior's iconic style into the 21st century." He certainly did that here — and then some.


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