DIOR AND I (2014)

Running Time: 90m mins.     Rating: x Stars/5 Stars

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Frederic Tcheng

Genre: Documentary

Country: France

Language: English, French, Italian & Flemish w/English subtitles

Distributor: The Orchard


The annual Academy Awards celebrations are arguably the dullest shows on tv, given the insipid thank-you speeches that name that the audience knows or cares to know.  That means there’s only one reason that people watch, and that’s to look at the clothing that the stars are wearing.  Since men don only the traditional tux and bow tie, only the women are worth admiring for their taste in threads.  And that’s where Christian Dior comes in.

Christian Dior is one guy who could be the subject of a movie. A closeted gay who served in the French military and died of a heart attack because of violent sex?  But only Dior’s ghost is on display Frederic Tcheng’s backstage look at the folks who works in what might be called the most elite segment of the rag trade.  These are the men and women, each with a specific role, who turn out the fabulously expensive (and for my money some of the uglier) versions of dresses that haute couture women wear for charity balls and other functions.  These customers are people who, when they phone the house of Dior in Paris to place orders, get members of the staff to fly even transatlantic, since these clients are not likely to shop at Target and might each have half a million to spend on a single dress.

In Tcheng’s picture, the principal focus is on Raf Simons, a Belgian appointed artistic director of the haute couture line in 2012.  It’s not clear whether he has a permanent job with the outfit or has been hired only for one lavish show.  At any rate Simon is somehow not fluent in French but speaks a passable English with a Germanic accent, and while he knows his stuff and seems calm on the surface, he makes no bones about how terrified he is, wondering whether the show will be a success and, in fact, is so nervous that he refuses to head down the catwalk until his first assistant, Peiter Mulier, convinces him that he’d be fine.

Like a celebrated movie director, he choreographs the scene in the atelier (workshop), at first introducing himself to seamstresses and tailors who have worked up to forty years for CD, a staff so dedicated that they appear to be more than willing to work seven days a week and right up to the hour of the show to get the fabrics complete on time.

When Simons gets the approval of the CEO, he hires a city mansion and decorates the walls from floor to ceiling with orchids and other expensive flowers sufficient to dazzle what might be a record number of press, people in the trade, and celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, Sharon Stone and Marion Cottilard.    The audience are agog watching models wearing threads that allegedly copy the Dior look from the middle of the 20th Century while linking to absolutely modern attire.  Everything you want to know about the industry—except for the backstabbing that is allegedly endemic among staffs of this nature—is on display.

What we need now—and which would be of far more interest to me than women’s fashion—would be a look at the film industry; namely, what goes into the making of a film.  Let people know the functions of Best Boy, Gaffer, and other crew people with such strange titles.  How do animators evoke such magic, how do press reps promote films, where does a movie like FURY 7 manage to scrape up a budget of $250 million?  What does the executive producer do and what do regular producers do?  How do some directors have the nerve to release movies like SHOWGIRLS?


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