Galliano taps Dior heritage at Paris couture shows

24th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

John Galliano tapped the rich heritage of the house of Christian Dior on Monday, sending out a strong collection with an distinct 1950s flavour on the first day of the Paris couture shows.

Inspired by fashion illustrator Rene Gruau's distinctive pen-and-ink drawings for Dior, Galliano went all-out for volume, enveloping his models in layers of tulle as they flowed down an elongated runway at the Rodin museum.

Opening her second straight Dior haute couture show, the 18-year-old American model Karlie Kloss set the tone in a very womanly embroidered red silk and black degrade tulle coat with the classic Dior silhouette.

Wasp waists and bare-shouldered ball gowns suggested Hitchcockian women "swallowed up in gigantic pleats," the Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar -- one of the 800-odd invited guests -- told AFP afterwards.

Speaking to reporters backstage, Galliano -- wearing a black military jacket from his own Russian-inspired menswear line -- underlined the shadow play between the fine tulle fabric and iridescent embroideries.

"Just to explain, Karlie's first outfit, where the light hits the folds and the darkness creeps in," the soft-spoken mustachioed designer said, pointing to an oversized scrapbook containing details of each look.

"You'll see the bright red and the layers, up to seven layers of tulle, sort of like a chiraroscuro effect."

To a greater degree than earlier collections, Galliano, 50, who took over the creative helm at Dior in 1996, said he was influenced not only Gruau's illustrations for Christian Dior, but also their friendship.

So much so, he said, that when Somerset House in London hosted an exhibition of Gruau's colourful drawings last year, he dispatched his staff across the Channel to study them.

"The 1950s were an inspiration," he added in halting French, "but I think that what I've just presented is very very contemporary. It's all about colour, material and volume. It's very very contemporary, and wearable for today."

Also showing Monday were French designers Christophe Josse -- newly inducted as a full member of the exclusive club of haute couture designers -- and Alexis Mabille.

Josse took over the modernist surroundings of the Palais de Tokyo to present a collection that he defined as "fragile, light and fresh," albeit more contemporary than his earlier work.

A self-confessed worrier, he acknowledged the shot of confidence that came with his promotion into the highest ranks of fashiondom. "It's exhilarating and it gives enthusiasm and energy to the ateliers," he added.

Mabille sent out 20 elegant outfits, including nine all in white that could easily find buyers as wedding gowns.

Sending out her third-ever haute couture collection, Bouchra Jarrar, who was studio director at Balenciaga before striking out on her own, refined the strong linear silhouette that has become her trademark.

Highlights included a light shetland wool sleeveless coat with fur collar, a black assymetrical bomber jacket over silk trousers and a perfectly tailored black silk tuxedo.

© 2011 AFP

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