SS15 at Hanging Rock:
Dior and the White Smock

For the Parisian house’s Spring Summer collection, Raf Simons revisits a period classic, and the versatile white smock is updated by brands as diverse as Akris, JW Anderson and even Ann Demeulemeester.

Raf Simons’ collection for Dior carried forward July’s Haute Couture theme, defining a wardrobe for the present that unites futurism with the glories of dress history. Finding new shapes, details and codes in the wardrobes of bygone eras, the collection combined silk waistcoats; their colour, construction and supple sheen last seen in grand 18th Century portraiture; with precise shirting and cropped crinoline skirts. Models dressed in such finery navigated the high-gloss, all-white catwalk, an elegant army of seemingly time-warped heroines. As the brand explains online, ‘Providence (Extended Remix): looking forwards and backwards to prepare for the future through a dynamic sampling and remixing of history.’

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The white smock as worn in ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ (1975)

The show’s location echoed the designs’ contemplation of past and future: An entirely mirrored tent, installed in the Louvre’s grand Cour Carre, at once reflected and captured the architectural surroundings, to the effect of completely blending and vanishing.

Looking back at dress history in order to create garments that we all want to wear now, is very much in the vein of Christian Dior’s work himself. The 1947 New Look collection surprised and even shocked immediate Post War society, its abundant use of fabric an apparent revolt against years of shortages and ‘making do’. The New Look silhouette, wide swinging skirts and jackets cut to the waist, professed Christian Dior’s love for the Belle Époque. Similarly, a few of the key looks seen at this season’s Dior show, could have been worn in the early 1900s. A highlight of the collection was several cotton smock dresses: While some were adorned with haphazardly placed chintz, others carried white on white broderie anglaise.

Updating the uniform of fictional Appleyard College, the white smock as shown at Dior, reminded us of a perennial film classic. Released in 1975, Peter Weir’s surreal mystery drama ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ tells the 1900-set story of a group of girls taken on a day out by the usually rather strict headmistress, coinciding with Valentine’s Day. During the trip, a group of girls and their teacher go missing, never to be traced again. Set in the dramatic natural scenery of Australia, the girls’ wardrobe, consisting of cotton smocks and intricate yet virginal white dresses, adds to the overall chilling and surreal atmosphere of the film.

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The white smock is a truly versatile garment, and as such has been interpreted by the most diverse of brands. At Akris, the dress is cut loose and follows simple, minimal lines. Antwerp designer Ann Demeulemmester created several white smocks, albeit made of diaphanous chiffon. Worn layered over sturdy garments, it appears at once as protective cover up and softening accent. Chloé‘s wide lapelled and Broderie Anglaise decorated version is made of the wild romance of windswept sandy dunes and dangerous cliffs.

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Three variations of the white smock by Christian Dior SS15
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The white smock as seen at Dior SS15
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The smock in many variations for SS15:
As a shirt dress by JW Anderson
Athletic at Akris
Romantic at Chloe

 

WORDS: Felix Bischof

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