Paris Fashion Week Coverage:
Dior Fall 2011 Couture
You can let out that breath you've been holding since Galliano was fired from Dior in March. The first Dior collection, sans-Galliano, was a remarkable attempt by Bill Gaytten to provide a cacophony of delights for the eyes. And yet, for some reason, Gaytten falls just short of the mark. This was definitely not an example of title assumption along the lines of Sarah Burton's triumphant takeover of the McQueen label. Instead, the clearly delineated vision of Galliano acted as a stumbling block to Gaytten's debut Dior collection. Assuming this collection is approached by one with only limited knowledge of Galliano's designs, one might easily mistake it for his handiwork. Let's tick the boxes: 1) Was it colorful? Yes. 2) Were there ornate headpieces? Yes. 3) Was there wild makeup? Yes. 4) What about bold silhouettes? Yes, it had that, too. However, Galliano deftly navigated the alien terrain of his otherworldly designs with a whimsical outlook that didn't take itself too seriously. Instead of embracing the théâtre de l'absurde, he eschewed it in favor of reifying metaphysical concepts into workable, wearable art. While in keeping with some of Galliano's tradition, Gaytten tried too hard to keep the outline, without properly filling in the lines with his own hand. Some might call it plagiarism, but we think it's a decent start for a man who was thrown into this blind.
It's the Dior label, so it has to look like Dior, and Galliano has been defining the Dior look since 1996. However, Galliano doesn't work for Dior anymore. Perhaps the media dissatisfaction with this collection springs from the hope that Gaytten would do something new, instead of taking so much from past works. There would be nothing wrong with this if it were a tribute collection, but it wasn't a tribute collection. As such, it passed as a little too lifeless, conceptually.
The collection itself is a parade of brilliant confections, geometric shapes, rippling ruffles, exotic prints and textures, and miles of organza, tulle, and chiffon. The looks range from 70s resort babe to court jester to 80s-era Cyndi Lauper, and finally it takes us, pow... straight to the moon. While this range of themes lacks cohesion, some of the looks are really dynamite, despite the feeling that they've been done before. There is an especially gorgeous layered rosette cape in a plume of blushing pastels paired with a simple pencil skirt that looks like springtime in Paris. A few gypsy kaftans dot the landscape along with some mega-dramatic full-skirted gowns that look like they're made for a romp in a mad, hot ballroom. While most are writing this off as a "miss", there are a few inescapably wonderful treasures in this collection that should not be overlooked.
written by GRACE GORDON