And haute couture seems to have finally caught up. Both Lagerfeld and Simons presented trainers with their haute couture, Lagerfeld across the entire Chanel collection, Simons with a clutch of Dior evening dresses. It looked a bit like Lily Allen in her “Smile” era incarnation, but what was more interesting chez Dior was the way that the idea of a trainer, rather than its injection-soled actuality, infected the entire collection. The spirit of aeration, of woman and dress breathing, the freedom of billowing bloused-back shapes, the general sense that Simons had knocked the stuffing out of that eternally boned and bombasted Dior silhouette, was profoundly refreshing. It felt completely contemporary. A few outfits in, it also silenced your niggles about who would wear this new breed of couture. It will appeal immensely and absolutely to couture’s new guard, to a new generation of clients who demand go-faster couture.
The most refreshing thing about Raf Simons’ spring Dior is that, as the silvery finale dresses of his last ready-to-wear show seemed to state, he’s not only got firmly to grips with the Dior archive and aesthetic, but is now ready to move it on. Karl Lagerfeld always moves Chanel on to some place fresh and new every season. He’s been reinventing Coco’s boucle-tweed wheel for more than30 years. And while those Chanel trainers – handmade by haute couture bottier Massaro in pearl-embroidered tweeds – are probably a seasonal gimmick, the qualities they emblemise were reflected across the Chanel collection as a whole. They represented freedom, and movement, and speed. The models raced down the stairs of Chanel’s futuristic set like Olympic athletes speeding across an arena, darting through like shimmering lightning flashes in iridescent pastel shades of opalescent pink, yellow and white. It was a new kind of fast fashion – lightweight and easy to move in, reflecting Madame Chanel’s own idiosyncratic viewpoint. Clothes must be logical, she once intoned. This Chanel collection made perfect sense.