PARIS (AP) — Thousands of square meters (yards) of hanging vines, wisteria and roses — some real, some fake — created a garden setting through which designer Raf Simons' took guests on the latest Christian Dior journey for spring-summer 2014.
But in the garden Simons created — with its lurid-colored flora hanging from make-shift metal scaffolding — the bees sting and things were off kilter.
This was not place for faint-hearted traditionalists.
And nor was Friday's ready-to-wear collection entitled "Against Nature."
On a combative mission, a more confident Simons — now in his third season at the creative helm — said he wanted to "change the very nature of things" and form "a new tribe of flower women," of Monsieur Dior.
And with a promise of a poisonous rose bed, guests including French first Lady Valerie Trierweiler to models Eva Herzigova and Natalia Vodianova, ducked under hanging branches to get a glimpse into how a now more confident designer — in his third season at the creative helm — would impose his personal vision on to the house's weighty DNA.
Other shows of the day included Roland Mouret, Anne Valerie Hash and Issey Miyake.
Simons' experimental collection was presented in a tent within Paris' Rodin Museum.
The show's theme was immediately seen to echo in the decor, with the myriad flowers — in unnaturally vivid colors — having no place inside a tent.
The blossoms were, of course, just the backdrop in Simons' colorful creative mission.
When the show opened with a black bar jacket — the icon of 1949's New Look — slashed at the sides, his intentions were clear.
Simons intended to engage with and go against the DNA of the Dior house itself.
A series Dior archive lantern dresses had slashed looped pleats, which were thrown off kilter either in glaring blue or with rebellious printed text underneath. Elsewhere, pleating was used excessively and abstractedly. "Skorts" (a pair of shorts resembling a skirt) came in dazzling multicolors.
He was certainly taking risks.
There were plenty of ingenious DNA subversions at work here and many of the 76 looks made a great statement.
But the small problem was just that: 76 looks — including swathes of sparkling metallics — was perhaps too much, and with Simons' overactive brain it felt at times that he was trying to fit too much into one show, or please too many.
But then again, Simons' mission is not a small one: To "propel Dior's iconic style into the 21st century." He certainly did that here — and then some.