haute couture spring summer 07

Dior's New Way Forward
By Timothy Hagy, Paris Editor | Photographed by Yannis Vlamos

January 22, 2007 - When last we left Dior couture (in a hot tent set up in the Bois de Bologne) on a summer afternoon in July 2006, John Galliano was dressed as an astronaut preparing to blast off to the moon. Today he dematerialized (in a cold tent set up in the Bois de Bologne), a saber at his side, a cockade of white plumes atop his head, a royal blue jacket streaming with a crimson cordon. Quelle spectacle!

Monday's show marked Galliano's ten years as Artistic Director of Dior Couture, and if anything posed more questions than it answered. For those affectionados accustomed to large productions, the guest list was shaved from a thousand to roughly 300. Those groupies that expected the opulent staging of previous seasons found only dove-gray walls (mirroring Dior Couture Headquarters on Avenue Montaigne) sprinkled with branches of cherry blossoms. Those diehard Dior fanatics drawn to a megawatt front row illumined by Hollywood's brightest, found actress Diane Kruger. For high-voltage this season, you'd have to go to Armani.

With all the flash and extravaganza that has come to define Dior under Galliano unplugged, what was left was some of the most poetic and sensuous creations yet unveiled. From the pleats of raspberry silk that streamed around a taunt silhouette, to volumes of delicately embroidered organza, looking at times as fresh as an unfolding flower, there was a gentleness to this collection. Silver flowers unfolded on a lilac gown, ferns, birds, roses, mother-of-pearl lotus blossoms glistened in the gossamer trains of evening dresses. Everywhere the Japanese theme brought with it a lightness that has been previously foreign to Dior.

Why Galliano chose now to unveil his "new way forward" is anybody's guess. It could be that economic forces have dictated a new reality for a corporate fashion house reliant on ready-to-wear, rather than couture, for profits. Or, it could just be that after a decade-long love affair with glitz, the designer decided to turn to artistic finesse to make his name. Whatever the reasons, the Dior Spring 2007 haute couture collection represents the finest work seen from Galliano.


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