Weird? And then some. It started Friday morning when the IHT came inserted into a flashy folder advertising Dior Addict. One might have filed that under forgot-to-cancel, except that guests arriving at the Rodin museum for the Christian Dior show were met on the grounds by an eager IHT contingent, its members handing out the paper still wrapped in its ill-timed Addiction. Outside the gate, a considerable police presence was either unnecessary or ultraintimidating, as the larger-than-usual crowd remained quite ruly. Much more so, in fact, than those fashion-crazed masses of yore that went wild in anticipation of Galliano’s early shows in Paris. Now, the other-than-usual suspects included a scantily clad faux royal with a sign proclaiming “The King is dead,” and, for some reason, a glammed-out Uncle Sam. But among the outraged and the merely curious, fashion paparazzi still photographed the young and chic, and the show’s invited guests pushed through as usual, save for their obviously darker communal mood.
Inside felt like a fashion show, albeit a sedate one, even as word spread that Dior president Sidney Toledano would make a preshow statement. Bernard Arnault did not attend. Toledano took to the stage with humility and the very clear message that the house’s recently terminated designer, his name left unuttered, is now p.n.g. chez Dior. Toledano offered a concise history of Dior’s founding, including the factoid that Christian Dior’s sister had been deported to Buchenwald. “What has happened over the last week has been a terrible and wrenching ordeal for us all,” he said. “It has been deeply painful to see the Dior name associated with the disgraceful statements attributed to its designer, however brilliant he may be.”
Toledano closed by celebrating “the extraordinary, creative and marvelous efforts of these loyal, hardworking people.” Those to whom he referred — the seamstresses and craftsmen of the Dior studio — took a bow at the end of the show. However, sources noted that Galliano’s own design team did not appear on the runway, in a show of solidarity for him.
As for the show, it was obvious that someone made the call to not attempt to replicate Galliano’s fantastical styling, including major-statement hair and makeup. Instead, the designer’s longtime collaborators Orlando Pita (hair) and Pat McGrath (makeup) made the girls look quietly pretty.
And how would the clothes hold up minus the runway theater? As it turns out, quite well. The rumor is that Galliano had been AWOL frequently of late, so how much he actually designed versus what was left to the hands of his talented team is unknown. Still, given that he was officially in residence until his dismissal on March 1, it’s likely that he directed at least the tone of the collection. Ironically, it indicated a marked departure from the ladyfied, bar-jacketed fare Galliano had favored in his gradual retreat from the outrageousness of his most storied collections. A more complete, sportswear-based collection took hold here, its youthful appeal anchored by a dandyish attitude. Jaunty knickers and long capes set the mood, but plenty of charming, gently cut dresses and skirts, along with an array of impressive jackets, diversified the lineup into something that could translate easily into the real-life wardrobes of a diverse range of women. Whether it will is up to them.