For fall, John Galliano continued his love affair with reality at Christian Dior with looks that featured stylish contrasts of materials, while Nicolas Ghesquière, too, showed a surprisingly commercial bent with his modern version of high glam for Balenciaga. Yohji Yamamoto, for his part, worked a sober vein once more, in an intriguing collection full of great black pieces.

Christian Dior: Oh, the proverbial spring fling. In John Galliano’s case, it grew into something more — it being last season’s romance with reality. The designer exposed his starry-eyed fascination once again with every look of his fall collection for Christian Dior, one sure to keep the house’s numbers traveling upward through year’s end.

Still, affairs of the fashion heart and spreadsheet are seldom without risk. On the upside, Galliano makes gorgeous clothes, and it’s a pleasure every now and then to just sit back and enjoy without having to extract the square root of his message or to imagine how the heck a girl’s supposed to wear this or that in real life. His fall lineup looked characteristically beautiful in combinations no more complicated than a strong coat over flimsy dress. But in his embrace of reality, the designer gave short shrift to his yen for invention, sometimes allowing a glum familiarity to settle in, especially noticeable after his daringly triumphant couture.

Galliano’s program notes featured a Jean Harlow one-liner — “Would you be shocked if I put on something more comfortable?” — and posed the question, “But just what do off-duty icons wear?” By day, they go Mod, at least the Type E (as in Sedgwick) ones. While the Swinging Sixties opening did carry over from couture, here, Galliano rendered it not in witty, big-buttoned tailoring, but in gigantic striped sweaters worn as minis over fishnets and boots — apparently after providing a royal feast for a swarm of moths. But the real stars of the collection were the sheepskins and furs, shown in myriad ways. Galliano is borderline obsessed with the former, not only for his spectacular coats and jackets, but for a dress and bell-skirted suit. And he’s a master at taking the chichi out of the most precious skins, sporting up mink, for example, with crisp lines and croc or leather trim.

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