The Garden of Earthly Delights - Hieronymus Bosch
Detail of the one clothed figure in Hieronymus Bosch’s epic triptych of Paradise and Hell: God in carnation pink. Note sleeve details. The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1500.

Raf Simons for Dior looked to the world of medieval art and clothing for this collection, particularly the masters of the Northern Renaissance like Van Eyck and Van Aeken Joren, better known as Hieronymus Bosch. It is to the late Renaissance, at around the start of the 1500s that he may have been influenced; his work in fur was around sleeves and sleeve heads, with the manner of displaying the hands by having them close a coat front became a lasting refrain in his couture show. That is couture allowed for a greater sense of the tranquillity or sheer grandeur of haute couture; immaculate presentation and the freedom to allow for some fantasy too, however restrained in the mind of Raf Simons.

I have suggested some comparisons from the past that relate to fur. It  is only when you see the sheer opulence of furs from this period that one can get a grip on just how they managed to make that opulence sit within the boundaries of good taste, not vulgarity and how the furs become part of the narrative of a portrait or story.

This collection was about asymmetry and investigation as well as owing a healthy debt to Botticelli’s Primavera. So much more optimistic than Bosch’s dystopian, Northern gloom.

Dior Haute Couture Look 2
Christian Dior Haute Couture by Raf Simons Autumn/Winter 2015 – Look 2
Catherine Parr
Master John’s portrait of Catherine Parr, 6th wife of Henry VIII
Christian Dior Autumn/Winter 1954
Mink collar, Christian Dior, Mazelle ensemble, A/W 1954, H-line collection, dress and coat with farmed mink trims. Couture worn by the Princesse de Réthy, second wife of King Leopold II of the Belgians.
Dior Haute Couture Look 54
Christian Dior Haute Couture by Raf Simons Autumn/Winter 2015 – Look 54.

Mink collar, contrasting sleeve which I think is sable. Sleeves style model’s left could be influenced by Mrs Arnolfini’s overgown, commemorated for posterity by Jan Van Eyck 601 years earlier.
Portrait of a Woman, 1543
Willem Key, Portrait of a Woman, 1543, with sable bell sleeves on her overgown; as a status symbol she could not have shown her status better whilst dressed modestly in Lutheran black and white.
French manuscript painting, c. 1510
‘The daughter of Louise de Savoie in the company of Arlod and Billiat,.’ This French manuscript painting, c. 1510., shows the bell sleeve reminiscent of Raf Simon’s Dior Couture A/W 2015. The man playing chess with her is wearing a short gown lined with a patchwork of miniver; the sleeve is open at the junction with the shoulder. The Man on the left is wearing a robe lined with genet fur.
c. 1530. Manuscript from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
Femme fatales and fur ….. genet edges the huge cuff of this sleeve and lines the gown, too. Genet skins were imported at that time from Africa to the Italian fur markets of northern Italy.

From the Epistulae Heroidum (Letters of Heroines): Deïanira hands her husband Heracules with a shirt soaked with the blood of the centaur Nessus.

c. 1530. Manuscript from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
Dior Haute Couture Look 3
Christian Dior Haute Couture by Raf Simons Autumn/Winter 2015 – Look 3
The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434
Inspiration? Jan van Eyck’s Portrait of the newly married Mr and Mrs Arnolfini, 1434. Sleeve on the right; is likely to be in soft lambskin; it not only edges the cuff but lines the overgown too. The gophering on the bottom of the sleeve is superb; Giovanni Arnolfini is in a tabard lined with marten.
The Magdelen reading, 1434
The Magdelen reading, Rogier Van der Weyden, 1434. Overgown is lined with panels of squirrel fur.
Self-Portrait, Aged 28, 1500
Albrecht Dürer, Self-Portrait, Aged 28, 1500, wearing robe lined with fur, holding it closed in the fashion of the time. The sleeve head is off the shoulder and shows a paned undershirt as extra detail. The sleeves appear to have been attached by lacing and were therefore adjustable.
Dior Haute Couture Look 53
Christian Dior Haute Couture by Raf Simons Autumn/Winter 2015 – Look 53.

Hand clutching the coat in the gesture fashionable in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Dior Haute Couture Look 5
Christian Dior Haute Couture by Raf Simons Autumn/Winter 2015 – Look 5
Christina of Denmark, 1538
Inspiration? Hans Holbein’s portrait of Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan, 1538.
Dior Haute Couture Look 26
Christian Dior Haute Couture by Raf Simons Autumn/Winter 2015 – Look 26
Portrait of a Saxon Prince, c.1510
Portrait of a Saxon Prince (Possibly Johann, husband of Elizabeth of Hesse), Lucas Cranach the Elder, c.1510.

Very Raf Simons for Christian Dior Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2015

Mrs Miniver

‘Miniver’ has all the gorgeous allusions to the age of chivalry, the medieval past and the courts of the Plantagenets and Valois. Fur in fashion repeats itself over and over again, from the white fox lining the robes of ‘Salome’ in the Byzantine Ravenna Mosaics to the mink that trimmed the robes of Henry VIII.

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