Raf Simons Turns Sterling Ruby’s Art into Haute Couture in New Dior Documentary

Screengrab from Dior and I.

Screengrab from Dior and I.

As witnessed in 2012, Raf Simons can effortlessly turn Sterling Ruby’s canvases into haute couture. The new documentary film Dior and I (2014) captures his talent while providing a first-ever look into the 70-year-old couture house and an in-depth profile of the making of the head designer’s first haute couture collection (this movie will reveal a lot of “firsts”).

Simons, the minimalist designer who cut his teeth at Jil Sander prior to joining the French fashion brand, was an unexpected successor to fill creative director John Galliano’s shoes at Dior. But as will be clear to any viewer who sees the film, he wasn’t just the right choice, he was really the only choice.

What sets this film apart from other fashion films? For starters, its protagonist, Simons, isn’t really the main character (the designer said in an interview last year, “If [he] could be anonymous, [he] would.”) According to Dazed, his assistant Pieter Mulier, clocks more on-screen minutes. The film offers a panoramic view of the head designer and especially his team.

Most documentary subjects have eccentric and outspoken personalities, like Diana Vreeland or Valentino Garavani. But Simons, who was born in Limburg, Belgium, brings a humble energy to the brand. Unlike Olivier Rousteing, his design peer at Balmain (who uploads a selfie every week), he has no personal Instagram account. And unlike Karl Lagerfeld (see Inside Fashion Guru Karl Lagerfeld’s Retrospective at German Museum), who associates himself with celebrity muses galore, Simons doesn’t seek that kind of limelight.

He still uses a Nokia brick phone—an almost-ancient gadget. In an exclusive clip seen on Dazed, this is what he whips out to take a picture of a beautiful printed Bucol silk coat inspired by spray-painted canvases done by his longtime friend and collaborator Sterling Ruby (see Will Art Fill the Runways at New York Fashion Week?).

The feature film shows the emotion, dedication, and hard work at play in the making of 54 painstakingly perfect handmade outfits.

In the moment leading up to Simons’s public debut at Dior, viewers will witness the head designer alone on the roof of the show’s venue, sitting on a chair with tears streaming down his face as he contemplates what he has achieved in just eight weeks and the magnitude of his success.

“Dior and I” will premier in the US on April 10 at select theaters.

Sterling Ruby at Nahmad Contemporary. Photo: courtesy of Nahmad Contemporary.

Sterling Ruby at Nahmad Contemporary.
Photo: Courtesy of Nahmad Contemporary.


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