Christian Dior


It was a somber audience that struggled through crowds of TV crews and onlookers on the street outside the Musée Rodin to see John Galliano’s final collection for Christian Dior. The tragic circumstances that have rocked this house are well known, but the show was going on, without the designer, for the first time since he was hired in 1996. 

Though it was a show stripped of all of Galliano’s predilections for showmanship, wildly exaggerated hair and makeup, and camp, insider references, there were beautiful things on the runway. Galliano’s imprimatur was fully there in the theme: the English Romantic poets and all their spin-offs, in the way of early-nineteenth-century capes, coats, knickerbockers, and fragile dresses. All of it looked wearable, and perfectly in sync with trends which have been emerging elsewhere this season: silk velvet in jewel colors; mannish frock coats; soft, loosely woven jackets in English bouclé tweeds.

And in the end, there was sad synchronicity and pathos here for anyone who had followed Galliano’s star since he shot to fame in 1984, straight out of Saint Martins. The pretty, dusty pastel semi-sheer Empire dresses that walked out as his final contribution to Christian Dior just happened to hark back to the period of history he explored in the Les Incroyables graduate collection which first spotlit his talent.

But how to end the show without him? His last appearance on this runway—costumed in a black wig and black velvet suit to impersonate Nureyev—was at the end of his couture show in January. This time, however, a white-coated crowd of ateliers emerged from the wings: the multiskilled Christian Dior team, ushered onto the rostrum to take credit for seeing this terrible season through. That seemed fitting, and emotional—and it made for a symbolic gesture of the brand’s solidity and continuance. What will happen next—who will step into this most treasured and sharply demanding of positions—is of course already open to wild speculation and gossip. But for the time being? Galliano left this house with some of the season’s loveliest and most circumstantially condemned evening dresses—fashion’s least likely choices to ever be worn in public.
joseph benjaminComment