Dior and I

Dior and I

2015, NR, 89 min. Directed by Frédéric Tcheng.

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., May 1, 2015

A piece of Dior haute couture to hang in the closet is probably not in most of our futures, but this enthralling documentary allows viewers to finger the hem, so to speak, of some grand designs indeed. The film chronicles the 2012 arrival of new artistic director Raf Simons at the Parisian House of Dior and the galloping, mere eight weeks he had to produce his first collection for an audience of fashionistas and their perfectly manicured talons.

While Simons – a soft-spoken Belgian who’s pretty obviously stressed out of his gourd – is the film’s entry point, Dior and I’s net scoops up a multilingual consortium of creatives and craftspeople toiling away at so much tulle. (Incidentally, the seamstresses wear heels. So chic.) The language barrier borders the Babel-esque; it’s a surprise fount of humor, too, as when a translator is terrified to pass along an Italian tailor’s request to the French-speaking chief seamstress, knowing she’ll be furious at the added work.

Onto this fly-on-the-wall portrait of an atelier at work, writer/director Frédéric Tcheng appliqués an ethereal narration drawn from founding designer Christian Dior’s own autobiography, Dior by Dior. (Tcheng employed a voice-from-beyond-the-grave technique less successfully in 2011’s Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, which he co-directed.) The narration is a nifty double-tasker: both contextual aid and artistic statement. By using Dior’s personal musings – on founding his fashion house, his philosophies on life, his dealings with the press – Tcheng neatly establishes the legacy of Dior and, consequently, how very high the stakes are for Simons, while also prepping the audience for mirroring points in Simons’ own narrative arc. The young designer didn’t benefit from the same cheat sheet, admitting he stopped reading Dior’s memoir on page 15 because the similarities were “too weird.”

The doc concludes with the debut of Simons’ collection, a spectacle I won’t spoil for anyone without a Vogue subscription – only to say that Tcheng, cinematographer Gilles Piquard, and editor Julio Perez IV assemble a flat-out thrilling representation of a geographically tricky catwalk/backstage and an emotionally draining day. Dior and I’s only misstep is saved for the final credits, which roll over a black screen with random bursts of blinding light meant to mimic a camera flash. No matter the season: Seizure-inducing is never a good look.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Frédéric Tcheng Films
Documentary about the life of the master couturier and milliner should have learned his lessons about simplicity and elegance

Josh Kupecki, June 7, 2019


April 14, 2021

More by Kimberley Jones
We Have an Issue: The Revolution Will Be Embroidered
We Have an Issue: The Revolution Will Be Embroidered
In this week’s cover story, Jessi Cape explores the resistance potential in cross stitch

April 9, 2021

30 New Shows, Returning Series, and Other TV Premieres This April
30 New Shows, Returning Series, and Other TV Premieres This April
Top Chef, crazy love, and sweet potters

April 1, 2021


Dior and I, Frédéric Tcheng

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle