3 stars
When Belgium's Rafe Simons took over as the leading designer of fashion house Christian Dior, cameras were there to watch his every move. Dior And I follows him over eight pressured weeks as he pulls together his first show for the iconic label.
Documentaries about designers are hardly new, The Eye Has To Travel (Diana Vreeland) and Valentino: The Last Emperor (Valentino) recently covered very similar ground while The September Issue opened windows from the other side, watching Anna Wintour looking in as she put Vogue's seminal edition to bed.

What makes this of particular interest is that Simons had a noteworthy career in pret-a-porter and, having never designed haute couture, was shoe-horned into the top spot at Dior. We also have access to Dior's own view of the house that Christian built through narration of his memoir which director Frédéric Tcheng cuts into the developing story for added texture.

Yet despite given the opportunity to examine any conflict Simons' appointment may have had at Dior, or probing the 'family' of workers employed there – many have been with the company for over thirty years, their accounts are worthy of a documentary in their own right – the focus stays firmly on the collection.

Which is not to say it's a walk in the park. What Simons and his team pull off in a disagreeably short time frame is truly remarkable. Most surprising is how involved everyone becomes in that process, from the lowest level of the floor all the way to the top. It's a compelling study of exceptional work-place relationships in an exceptionally creative environment.

What Dior And I is not, is truly fascinating in the way that Vreeland or Versace were before it (all three, I should note, directed by Tcheng). Lacking the angst or tantrums that give them the car-crash factor, this is something of a tease. Dior's narration points to extraordinary conflict which Tcheng largely ignores, while Simons' colleagues point to an extraordinary work ethic that begs for examination. There are at least three documentaries here, and it’s the least interesting one which was made. Perhaps there was an agreement to keep cameras trained elsewhere.

Accordingly, this agreeable look at how a collection comes together is seldom more than that. Lacking fire in its belly, Dior And I feels more ready-to-wear than its couture siblings, which is not what you want from high fashion, surely?


Previewed at The Reel Room, Sydney, on 17 March 2015


Rafe Simons
Sidney Toledano
Pieter Mulier
Anna Wintour

Frédéric Tcheng

Frédéric Tcheng

France (subtitles)


90 minutes

March 26, 2015
Dior and I (2014) on IMDb