Dior: Dressing for Intellect
A new woman. A woman thoroughly immersed in the idea of “intellectual dressing.” What does that pretentious term even involve? Does intellectual dressing challenge our presupposition of what it means to be “well-dressed?” Or does it consist of seeing shapes and fabrics in a new light?
Perhaps, it’s none of that. Maybe the way in which we should define it is more obvious: dressing for ourselves and no one else. Our sense of individuality comes from being comfortable enough to be as daring and bold as we so choose, regardless of dull implications from onlookers. Who cares what the rest of the world thinks? We are talking about hard hitting, mind challenging fashion.
The thought of intellectual dress is something that has intrigued me for the last few months. As I personally begin to shift into wearing more challenging silhouettes from the likes of Juun.J and Junya Watanabe, in addition to wearing more black, the color often associated with the intellect pack, I have to wonder: is dressing for intellect the “New Look?”
I say “New Look” because of the fashion house commonly associated with those two brave words: Christian Dior. The woman Raf Simons presented at his Spring/Summer 2014 Prêt-a-Porter show is certainly an ideal archetype of what it means to be intellectually dressed. The wasp-waisted, curve-enhancing demurity of Dior’s legacy rendered Simons an ample garden of ideas that provoked the ordinary. Newness in appearance is nothing if not utterly fearless and Simons’s work for the House of Dior is both brave and bold. The women who decide to adorn themselves with his work want to stimulate the minds of others. These are the women who redefine the conventional standards of sex appeal by choosing to dress the way they do. This is the new sex appeal.
Take for example my personal favorite looks from the show: strong, menswear-inspired, wasp-waisted “Bar” jackets. Conventional enough for business in the front, they were equally suitable for an art gallery opening in the back. With their swinging, godet inserts falling in a gentle bustle done in strong, contrasted floral prints, the coats offered a sweet but biting approach to femininity for a new, intellectually dressed woman.
What’s more important is that this clothing challenges conventional standards of beauty while being entirely about what women want to wear. It gives the wearer the femininity they want to hold onto while providing the power and sharpness of masculine tailoring. What Simons brings fourth is the redefining of what it means to be a powerful woman, perhaps most importantly in the work place. Who’s to say you can’t take an intellectual approach to fashion and wear it too?
So perhaps the idea of intellectual dressing isn’t so “intellectual”, but rather powerful. Shirtdresses that looked seemingly basic revealed a deeper, more powerful meaning. Completely shoulderless, they were supported by sequin embroidered racer backs that offered a newness and ease that has been missing from fashion.
What’s even more striking is the introduction of Simons’s vernacular into his work for Christian Dior: his fascination with text and slogan, using typical methods of communicating thought in atypical ways. The most important dresses in the show were those that brought the show’s floral theme to life: slogans like “Alice Garden” and “Primrose Path” were embroidered onto bands that vertically intersected dresses done in striking floral prints. The intrusion of the realness of Simons’s textual obsession added to the frankness of the dresses’ message: they may be pretty, but they’re more than just artificial.
As Mayer Aguayo’s cover of Kylie Minogue’s “Slow” brought the clothing to life on the runway, it made one line in the chorus hard to ignore: “Slow down and dance with me.” Men of the world, take note: this is the woman you want to slow down and dance with.