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How’s does one define the fascination of documentaries/films focusing on the fashion industry?  Hidden, silently simmering from one to the next: “Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston”, “Valentino: The Last Emperor”, “The September Issue”, “The Devil Wears Prada” , “Coco Before Chanel”, is a lustful fantasy for the extravagantly magisterial wardrobe; created for the favored few; the “Cinderella Syndrome” , a wand is waved, for a magical moment, one is six –feet- tall, imperially slender, wealthy as Croesus, sliding down the avenue, runway; paralyzing the stares of the inferior dressed.

“Dior and I” meets the tantalizing criteria of evolutionary design, haute couture in the hands of Raf Simons, a Belgian fashion designer, formerly at Jill Sander, hired by Dior in 2012 as artistic director; he has eight weeks to cull his first fall collection; highly –strung, sucking and slurping cigarettes and diet coke; intensity spreading from one seamstress to another, “premieres”; these women are given tremendous artistic freedom in the selection of dresses, styles, fabrics; Raf recognizes that they are the spine of the ateliers; gifts them the dignity and license they have laboriously earned.

Simons has been ingenious in blurring the boundaries between fashion and art: referencing works by Sterling Ruby, Gerhard Richter and Jeff Koons; no longer thought of as a minimalist, his designs sing with cacophonous vibrations, sculptural harmony, “works” to be worn in perpetuity.  

The spectacular conclusion, in a magnificent mansion in Paris, flowers inspired by Jeff Koons’ “Puppy”, models fashioned from the same petri dish, glide, like Ziegfeld girls up and down a “stairway from heaven”; peeking from behind the curtain, are the pudgy, makeup- less, lined seamstresses, “masters of material”, smiling, glowing with the certitude that if it weren’t for them, the dream would have never been realized.

THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!


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