Dior and I grants audiences insider access to the House of Dior, where new creative director Raf Simons attempts to produce his first fashion line for the company in just eight weeks. Striving to modernize the Dior haute couture brand while also staying true to the hallmarks of the Christian Dior style, Raf faces scrutiny by those who see him as merely a minimalist (thanks to his prior, celebrated tenure at Jil Sander), and struggles to adjust to work at Dior and, specifically, with the staff responsible for putting together the ideas concocted by him and his team. It’s an endeavor wrought with pressure, and one that director Frédéric Tcheng depicts with a clear, sharp sense of what’s important, wasting scant time on Simons’s background or the nitty-gritty of fashion production in order to convey a larger sense of the environment’s push-pull tensions between inventiveness and practicality, the past and the present.
It’s the latter dynamic that’s front and center throughout Dior and I, as Tcheng’s portrait of Simons’s efforts to inject new life into Dior is embellished with both archival footage of Dior and narrated readings from his memoir, in which he discusses his life as two people—Dior the man and Dior the icon—as a means of ruminating on his methods and ethos. Those interludes convey the apparent kinship between Dior and Raf, two men characterized as equally interested in classical designs tinged with a romantic view of the future. Unfortunately, that thematic thread is raised early on and then slowly set aside as the action gets closer and closer to premiere day, and the focus turns more squarely to the question of whether Raf and company will make their deadlines and impress their illustrious colleagues. As a result, Dior and I proves an increasingly superficial affair, especially given that the director’s attempts at suspense are largely facile—suggestions of thorny conflicts are dismissed as quickly as they’re introduced—and Simons’s creative process is barely investigated. Still, bolstered by deft editing that keeps the proceedings moving at a light, graceful clip, this behind-the-runway look at one of fashion’s legendary brands has a sleek, efficient stylishness in keeping with its subject.