Dior: The stage set for John Galliano's Christian Dior collection sent expectations sky-high: the ruins of a once-glorious garden, grand iron gate overrun with vines, paths strewn with toppled statuary and discarded, cobweb-covered chandeliers. Somehow, this made the perfect backdrop against which he would celebrate the house founder in typically complicated fashion. In this centennial year of Dior's birth, Galliano riffed wildly on his body of work — as previously interpreted by Rene Gruau, Christian Bérard and Cecil Beaton — while folding in a soupçon of Peruvian pep because, why not?

Galliano billed the show as "an interesting exploration into the construction of Haute Couture," and if it didn't fulfill that promise exactly, it did make a joyful argument for an element of evening fashion too often ignored these days — diversity. At a time when dressing up has, despite the publicity it generates, become something of a rote affair, Galliano dared to put the grand scale back into grand events. And if not a single one of his remarkably embellished tulle-over-corset creations was client/celebrity-ready per se, each offered the overstated germ of an idea ripe for reality mining. The siren may be swell — Galliano dedicated a section to her, engaging the iconic likes of Linda, Shalom, Naomi and other supermodels to play Rita, Ginger, Ava et al — but she's hardly the only one invited to John's party. His is an open-door policy, welcoming in the Edwardian ladies of Dior's early childhood, his extravagant New Look mannequins and glorious debs à la Princess Margaret in full-on ballroom regalia. (Calling all Lindsay and Scarlett types: Why not ditch the diva trappings in favor of some young-girl party clothes while the window's still open?) And because, in Galliano's tome, no history is sacrosanct, he Dior-ified traditional Peruvian garb in an imagined ballet choreographed by Margot Fonteyn.

What Galliano did not do was run as far as he might have with his haute construction exposé, content instead to build each look in a similar fashion — that is, in see-through tulle over nude corsets — albeit with very different effects. Nor did he deliver that one longed-for couture look that was, well, ready to wear. But just as he did last season with his Josephine-cum-Edie Sedgwick stunner, Galliano once again focused on the glorious possibilities inherent in daring to be different.

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