Heavenly bodies

A return to Palais Bulles, scene of one of Raf Simons’ final collections for Dior. Photography by Sohrab Golsorkhi-Ainslie, styling by Nobuko Tannawa

Dior is Paris’s most venerable fashion house. The stewardship of Raf Simons brought a fresh sense of connection to the maison’s heritage. Modernist with a capital M, floral without a hint of chintz, thoughtful while fun: Simons’ Dior was a realignment of French-chic for contemporary life and audiences. From his first couture show in 2012, where the rooms were covered entirely in fresh flowers, to his last cruise show in the Palais Bulles – the location of this shoot – every gesture was poignant and profound. Simons’ Dior was aspirational and lavish, of course, but believable and intellectually credible. The house is now more relevant to the 21st-century woman than was ever imaginable before. Simons remained elegant even in his departure, leaving with an integrity that was full of love. As the Old Lady of Paris awaits her next suitor, we remember the Raf years with more than a little wistfulness. —Masoud Golsorkhi


Lou wears a top from Dior SS15.

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Lou wears a top and skirt from Dior SS14.

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Left, is a dress from Dior SS13. Right, Lou wears a dress from Dior AW14 Couture.

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“The high point for me was that first collection he did for couture. It was such a clean, coherent message that immediately made the house codes clear and relevant again. And those walls of flowers were beautiful – lavish but simple, which seems very Dior. I think he’ll be remembered for bringing an artistic eye to the house, for reviving the Bar jacket and the tux, for getting it into Dover Street, for the jewelled trainer. He broadened Dior’s audience. But in the end, three years just isn’t enough.” —Lisa Armstrong, fashion director, the Daily Telegraph

Left, she wears a top and dress from Dior SS15 Couture. Right, Lou wears a top and skirt from Dior SS13.

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“I will never forget Raf’s first Dior show at the Hôtel Particulier in Paris – it was completely covered in flowers. As we walked in, the scent was intoxicating and the anticipation was palpable. I have rarely felt such a charged atmosphere before a show. The clothes had the modern touch needed to bring Dior forward. An unforgettable moment. Raf made the brand relevant again, insofar as it became a topic of conversation in fashion. While not everyone was a fan of the direction he took, and some people missed Galliano’s theatrics, it’s undeniable that Raf put a unique stamp on Dior.” —Imran Amed, founder and editor-in-chief, The Business of Fashion

Left, is a coat from Dior SS13Right, a dress from Dior SS14.

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“While we were making Dior and I, on a Friday night I accompanied Raf back to Antwerp in his car. Away from the Dior office I discovered the extremely personable man behind the designer, equally curious about my favourite dessert or my favourite artist under 30. Raf is someone who has the ability to change the discourse on fashion. It’s not just about clothes any more.” —Frédéric Tcheng, film director

Left, Lou wears a jumper, top and shorts from Dior SS16 with the stylist’s own socks. Right, she wears a coat and boots from Dior SS15 Couture and tights by Falke.

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“Raf’s legacy is not just about Dior; it is about the fashion industry. It did feel like a ‘moment’ with him being there, because the menswear designers were doing womenswear. It was a shift and for me it did feel really significant. There was this idea of reality in the way he handled the couture so that it had a feeling of newness that had not been there for a long time – probably since the 1950s, when it was the reality and ready-to-wear as not as dominant.” —Jo-Ann Furniss, fashion writer

Left, Lou wears a top and a skirt from Dior SS15 and the set designer’s own rubber glove. Right, a skirt from Dior SS15.

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“I knew Raf before he went to Dior – we worked together at Jil Sander. So when he first arrived, I was the only person who knew him within the company. On one particular day, everyone in the studio was presented to him and when he walked into the room we ran and embraced each other like old friends. Raf was able to liberate Dior from its past but respect it at the same time.” —Stephen Jones, milliner

Lou wears a jumper and top from Dior SS16.

Set design: Georgina Pragnell at Webber Represents / Hair: Maki Tanaka using Bumble and bumble / Make-up: Nobuko Maekawa using MAC Cosmetics / Videography: Martin Senyszak Photography assistant: Gabby Laurent / Set design assistant: Staci Lee Hindley / Model: Lou Schoof at Models 1