Dior and I

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Frédéric Tcheng

Starring

Christian Dior Omar Berrada Raf Simons

Anticipation.

Tcheng’s debut was full of sass and charm.

Enjoyment.

Pleasant but slight.

In Retrospect.

The talented Tcheng has yet to sniff out a universal story.

Frédéric Tcheng documents the transitional period between creative directors at Dior in this moderately compelling fashion-world exposé.

The name Christian Dior is so enshrined in glamour and history that fashion-watchers will naturally gravitate towards this behind-the-scenes doc. But for the layperson, is there — to paraphrase the famous Linda Evangelista quote — anything to get out of bed for here?

The answer is rooted in the glitzy trail that director Frédéric Tcheng’s debut, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, spun following its release in 2011. At a VIP screening in Paris, Tcheng met a Dior head honcho. He knew that the fashion house was in the process of replacing outgoing creative director, John Galliano, and that a Belgian chap named Raf Simons was leading the pack of contenders.

“He’s a minimalist!” thought Tcheng at the time — a proclamation expressed early on in the film. Inviting a minimalist into the house of Dior carried the potential for fiery dust-ups. Documenting this changing of the guard was going to be Tcheng’s film. Fortunately for Simons and unfortunately for Tcheng, give or take a few signs of mild stress, everyone rubs along admirably and the film desperately wants for dramatic intrigue.

The strongest story strand, which documents preparations for Simons’ first haute couture collection, is its sly, perhaps inadvertent demystification of auteur theory. What this means is Tcheng and his cameras spend more time with the seamstresses than with anyone else. These woman and men, dressed plainly in white lab coats, have worked at Dior for up to 40 years. They create Simons’ visions with skill and no affectations.

It’s a sweet inside portrait that counteracts The Devil Wears Prada-esque depictions of the fashion world as ultimately psychotic and fuelled by ego. Gentleness extends to the memoirs of the maestro himself. Christian Dior’s account of transforming from a naturally private person to a public figure is narrated over archive photography. Passion rather than power-lust defines Dior and I. Tcheng makes the most of the airy material, crafting it in a representative spirit.

Published 27 Mar 2015

Tags: Christian Dior Frédéric Tcheng

Anticipation.

Tcheng’s debut was full of sass and charm.

Enjoyment.

Pleasant but slight.

In Retrospect.

The talented Tcheng has yet to sniff out a universal story.

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