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Christian Dior

John Galliano is not a halfway kind of guy. When he grasps a motif, he runs with it.<BR><BR><BR><BR>

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John Galliano is not a halfway kind of guy. When he grasps a motif, he runs with it. After years of fielding criticism for those wondrous theatrical extravaganzas in which he often gave not a whit of attention to real clothes, he has now swung over — all the way over — to the other side. Putting the focus on the merch was the reason he took his resort collection to New York, to great fanfare, last May; now, he’s brought the notion to Paris.

The Christian Dior collection he showed on Tuesday night was all about real clothes for real stores — and not just in the fashion capitals — a point Galliano delivered with blunt clarity and a great big “take that” to his critics.

His spring message was concise: a smart, discreet suit for day, a beautifully draped dress for night. Despite their aura of reserve courtesy of subtle, neutral-toned fabrics, the suits bore considerable interest, an arm slit on one, a bold rounded shoulder on another and often, a measure of tone-on-tone embroidery defining the jacket. These looked refined and completely above the fashion fray, clothes for women who care far more about dressing well than looking trendy.

Galliano made the transition into evening with white jersey pieces embellished with small metal hoops and with sweet little embroidered dresses. As for his grandest looks, relative to the lavishness that once commanded even his ready-to-wear runways, these, too, radiated calm, yet with impeccable intricacies of cut and flou delicately sprinkled with crystals and beading.

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