A waft of Orientalism and a newer-look Bar jacket. If it sounds like a savvy excursion to the land where art meets commerce, it was. And it looked great. At a time when houses with a history want to flaunt the specific iconography that sets them apart from the masses — and even at the luxury level, there are masses, relatively speaking — Christian Dior’s rich history offers John Galliano a wealth of possibilities, which, integrated with the ever-churning spoils of his own vivid imagination, provide endless potential.
For fall, Galliano enveloped himself in a motif of Orientalism, a fascination shared by the house founder. Specifically, Galliano looked to the richness of 18th-century Persian miniatures, extracting their colors and patterns to wrap around the house standards, most noticeably, the New Look, re-created here as something approachable and modern, the exaggerated arch shoulder and megapeplum considerably relaxed. He paired his jackets with skirts that resembled gently deflated bubbles, some with banded hems. The result: tailored looks for women who want more pizzazz than they’ll find in common suiting, and less aggression than in much of the Forties-cum-Eighties options out there this season. These featured a zigzag yoking a black jacket, a mostly black-and-silver brocade cut into precise lines over a skirt in a tiny-dot tie fabric and an embroidered purple suede.
Yet this was no mere suit fest, as Galliano showed lovely paisley day dresses and, for more adventurous types, harem pants. The coats, too, were terrific, whether all girlied-up — a high-waisted, fox-rimmed black-and-purple floral brocade — or simplified — a linear gray coat with graphic flower embroideries that roared Twenties.
Evening was a decorative dream, starting with an astrakhan vest over those daring-yet-approachable harem pants. But Galliano’s primary focus was on floaty chiffon gowns in gorgeous shades of magenta, aqua, and ocher. With their dazzling, medallionlike embroideries, they looked as mesmerizing going as coming.