As the Paris collections began, the city played host to a pair of polar opposites. In one corner, there were Galliano’s Old Hollywood-inspired party girls for Christian Dior; in the other, Rick Owens’ cerebral takes on cocoon dressing.

Christian Dior: Fashion can be likened to working out — sometimes you go at maximum power until there's not another move left in you, and sometimes you pull back and give yourself a break. After his extraordinary work surrounding Dior's 60th anniversary celebration — two extravaganza couture outings and one for ready-to-wear — on Monday afternoon John Galliano did the latter for spring, showing a collection that featured a scaled-back variation on last season's divine retro.

As Sting and Trudie Styler sat in the front row, the singer's "I'm an Englishman in New York" came over the soundtrack, to accompany a model in three-piece pinstripes and beret, the first of many girls dappered out in natty, demonstrative tailoring. Then, the counterpoint: dresses and suits with a Thirties-Forties vibe, the former typically graceful bias cuts, the latter, all curves with Joan Crawford shoulders, and perhaps a Swarovski explosion somewhere to flaunt the luxe. For diversity's sake, Galliano inserted a flapper here, a Fifties cocktail number there, not to mention a whole lot of wild-kingdom lingerie, sometimes combining his motifs, as when he put a crystal-pinstriped jacket and vest with animal-spotted undies.

For evening, Galliano could not have moved further from the intricate, how'd-he-do-that origami New Look constructions that started in couture and made their way into fall. Instead, he opted for red carpet-ready sirens, many of them beautiful, though they felt a bit wanting in the thrills department. Perhaps Galliano felt the time had come for a statement about clothes of an obviously grounded sort, just to remind us they're in his repertoire, too.

Rick Owens: Fashion fit for a futuristic avatar? At Rick Owens, anything is possible, and it can even look good at times — although it's certainly not everyone's cup of tea. Owens has never shied from weird or unwieldy looks. This season, for example, it would be hard to call his spiky, towering wedge boots worn with black gym socks a model of typical sportif chic. But his gazar dresses and jackets, manipulated into intricate geometric patterns, were interesting propositions, as were a jacket in folded ostrich, geometrical striped dhoti pants and kimono-like jackets. And both the intriguingly draped white dresses and high-necked, cocoon-like jackets had modern allure. Still, it may take effort to integrate many of these pieces into a wardrobe, but then Owens has never been about making fashion easy.

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