By Daniel Lammin
23rd August 2015

The past decade has seen a sudden surge in documentaries about the fashion industry. Beginning with the excellent look behind the doors of Vogue 'The September Issue' (2009), fashion houses and designers have invited audiences behind the scenes as they work to expand and revolutionise the world of fashion. Now the hallowed halls of Christian Dior are in the spotlight with Frédéric Tcheng's 'Dior and I', not only capturing the frantic artistic insanity of the fashion house today but the ghosts hidden in the shadows.

The film follows designer Raf Simons as he prepares for his first haute couture collection in 2012. Suddenly the artistic leader of an incredible and intimidating team of artists, many of whom have worked at Dior for decades, his first collection aims to marry his modern with a classic style inspired by Dior's original collection. With very little time and wildly ambitious ideas, Simons and his team race against the clock to get the collection ready in time for the big reveal to the elite of the fashion world.


Tcheng has crafted an excellent film, fuelled by a driving energy and a genuinely engaging collection of characters. While Simons is the focus, we also get to meet the team of dressmakers and technicians who bring his sketches to life. What fills every frame of the film is how dedicated and energised everyone is by the work, and their belief in the ideals that set Dior apart. Though Simons has the final word, each creation is the result of an entire team, each member adding their own personal touch. It's not a blemish-free portrait though - Tcheng captures the stress, the fights and the conflict between the commercialisation and the artistic integrity of the fashion world. The many participants in the documentary are open, warm and honest, and the "race against time" thread that holds it together give the film a valuable sense of tension. It's also a strangely haunting film, with the current footage intercut with archival footage of Christian Dior himself, along with excerpts from his autobiography. Many of the staff at Dior believe that their founder still walks the halls, a presence watching over their creations, and the same can be said of the film. It might be exploring the contemporary world of fashion, but its history is never far behind, informing our perception of the new collection and the creation of the collection itself.

Tcheng captures the stress, the fights and the conflict between the commercialisation and the artistic integrity of the fashion world.

Where 'Dior and I' excels over many fashion documentaries is how human it is. Of course you get to marvel at the clothes and the Parisian architecture, but where the film properly packs its punch is how emotionally invested the creative team are. We've seen them all working on their separate tasks, but when the collection goes before the critics, they band together, gripping to one another in anticipation. It's a moving sight, and reminds you of the immense personal investment that goes into these clothes before they reach the models. Frédéric Tcheng has fashioned a stirring documentary, an excellent addition to this fascinating genre and a testament to this great fashion house.

Madman have only released 'Dior and I' on DVD, but it's a terrific 16:9 transfer nonetheless. Detail is excellent throughout, but most importantly the colours leap from the screen. So much of the 2012 collection involved experimenting with colour and texture, so it's a good start that the standard definition transfer still helps to demonstrate that. The French and English Dolby Digital 5.1 track also does a great job, keeping dialogue in the foreground and wonderfully clear, and subtitles are provided for sequences not in English.

The only extra included is a theatrical trailer.

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