19 April 2011

The Throne of Dior

Surely taking on the House of Dior is kind of like winning the fashion lottery, making it to the gates of heaven, getting bumped to first class from here until eternity, or...well...getting to head the House of Dior. So the question of the moment: who will take over Dior?

According to Women's Wear Daily, the short list of potential Dior designers has arrived and that list includes:

Prabal Gurung (left); Haider Ackermann (right);

Riccardo Tisci (from Givenchy -- left); Alber Elbaz (from Lanvin -- right);

Nicolas Ghesquiere (from Balenciaga -- left);
Hedi Slimane (formerly of Dior Homme -- right)

Olivier Theyskens (currently at Theory; I had to include this full shot
because it is so very gorgeous)

Tom Ford (left, with Julianne Moore); Sarah Burton (from McQueen -- right)

If we take into account the last collection for Dior, RTW Fall 2011 (please click images for larger views -- lovingly borrowed from style.com -- they are truly exquisite designs):

This had to be one of the best collections I've seen from Galliano in awhile -- from anyone, for that matter. It is the heart of his skill -- romantic, edgy, ethereal, historic, powerful, colorful, diaphanous -- he was quite gifted in capturing the essence of a woman in all its many facets. I was gasping going through the footage of this show, which he was unable to attend given the drunken anti-semitic tirade he engaged in days prior. I felt for him before I saw the show, but seeing it after -- well, G-d has his timing I suppose but what a sad lot for him to be so far removed from such beauty created by his own imperfect imagination. It's like painting the greatest painting of all time but never being allowed to see it hung at the Louvre, to hear the passing gasps of admirers and the melodic clicking of flashbulbs amidst a sea of enthralled journalists. Painful.

But I digress. Back to task -- taking the House as it stands at this moment, for the clients it attracts, the very loyal and bourgeois patrons of all things Dior, who could possibly fill the shoes of the great designers before him/her? Who could possibly take the gold-encrusted sceptre of Dior to a new non-tarnished place in the history of fashion?

Well, I've thought it over quite a bit. Honestly, it could be any of them. But I'm going to take a few out of the running (the one in my head at any rate). Prabal Gurung, while truly gifted, I think is too young and has just really developed his place -- I think he should enjoy that for awhile. Riccardo Tisci is a favorite of Bernaud Arnault's (chairman of LVMH who owns Dior) daughter who currently acts as deputy managing director of Dior, so he has some weight there but I think the decision is more complex than that factor. Nicolas Ghesquiere -- well, I'm not sure that the marriage of his aesthetic to that of the Dior aesthetic (historically speaking) is a match. I truly don't believe Sarah Burton will leave Alexander McQueen so shortly after his death and since being at the label since its inception. I would say the same for Alber Elbaz leaving Lanvin -- I just don't see him making that exit. He is Lanvin (and I really, truly do not want him to go!). Finally, I just don't know that Tom Ford isn't too racey for the Dior client. Plus, selfishly, I really want Tom Ford to continue making films and I'm not sure that this wouldn't shelf that at least temporarily.

So, that leaves: Theyskens, Slimane & Ackermann, a trio I never thought I would be entertaining as the heir to the Dior throne. Not to negate their ability by any means, they are all three very gifted artists. But when I think Dior, I think someone with an equally massive persona and ego as Galliano.

I say Slimane because he's been at Dior before and they tried (without success) to sway him to staying some years ago and selling his extremely crafty soul to the LVMH hierarchy. He politely told them no. He's a brilliant photographer, a forward-thinking designer and has a strong following in many different reaches of those pockets which can actually afford Dior.

I say Theyskens because -- well, wow. Olivier Theyskens has got to be one of the most talented and multi-faceted designers out there. I think maybe he is the reincarnate of Balenciaga (look them both in the eye). His is an old soul but he's young and has a lot of fresh ideas. I don't think he'd be a designer that would ever bore. He'd woe those young Dior girls who want something very 'now' but would placate and seduce the older set who long for the romance of their youth.

However, now that I've had a few days to let this gestate, I'm really having some strong feelings about Haider Ackermann. He nails that romantic/edgy symbiosis pretty damn well. In addition to being a contender for the seat of Dior, Karl Lagerfeld himself has suggested Ackermann as a replacement for him (some day) at Chanel. A compliment indeed -- and let's face it, Karl doesn't roll out compliments all that often.

More from Ackermann's RTW Fall 2011 Collection:

If you focus on the details of Ackermann's skill (and styling), and compare them to those of Galliano's (albeit, Dior's), I think you'll see that there is a passion to intricacy there that is parallel and transferable to the label's goal and mission.

Or maybe I've just suddenly fallen in love with Haider Ackermann (anyone who uses Leonard Cohen's "A Thousand Kisses Deep" for their runway show will surely catch my attention).

Whatever the case may be, it would be really great to see someone unexpected propelled into sudden and certain greatness. Who knows, tomorrow I may change my mind and lean more towards Burton (who is said to be in the very top of the contender's and may even be the top pending Kate Middleton's decision on whether Burton will design her gown or not) but today my money is Ackermann.

Long live the dark horses.


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