Galliano sends out a 'Wonderland' garden of couture for Dior

John Galliano turned the runway into a lush garden for his exuberant couture show for Christian Dior on Monday, in tribute to the legendary French designer's love of flowers.

His hothouse blooms were fittingly unveiled in a tent in the gardens of the Rodin museum on the first day of the Paris haute couture collections for next autumn-winter, in brilliant sunshine.

The eccentric British designer explained that he wanted to do something bold and fresh with flowers, "allowing their colour, texture and structure to inspire a new, modern beauty."

The floral influence was palpable in the cut of skirts which looked as if they were composed of petals, and bustiers, sprouting fragile filaments in silk chiffon like pistils. Organza frocks appeared to have been constructed from hundreds of buds sewn together.

The whole collection was riot of fresh, vibrant colour. Voluminous hand-painted skirts conjured up exotic orchids or the loud contrasts seen in showy flowers like parrot tulips.

American top model and house favourite Karlie Kloss opened the show in a violet mohair coat with elbow-length red gauntlets.

Models had their lacquered hair curled up into a chignon, covered in a veil of cellophane, like a bouquet fresh from the florist.

While some evening gowns were cut close to the body, most billowed out into ultra-full skirts with trains, emphasising slender waists.

Among the front-row celebrities, actress Marisa Berenson said: "It's like a fairytale. It makes me think of Alice in Wonderland."

Earlier in the day, emerging talent Bouchra Jarrar showed her second couture collection of 19 pieces built around strong geometric ideas.

Deceptively simple, even minimalist, it demonstrated her mastery of precision cutting, a skill she doubtless honed when she was director of the couture studio for Christian Lacroix before starting her own house in January.

Her understated elegant pants suits, two-pieces with sleeveless tops and dresses, came in classic neutrals, cream, navy, and black in jerseys, lightweight wool crepe and silk georgette.

No fussy embellishment spoiled the uncluttered look: as sole adornment she used contrasting piping, like shiny black and white satin on navy, to edge jacket fronts, pockets and hemlines. Her other fetish was dinky half belts.

Here and there she slashed the side or back of a top to reveal a flash of gold and emphasised the plunging V-necklines of her evening frocks with solid V-shaped gold necklaces.

Another rising talent, France's Chrisophe Josse said his collection was inspired by Luchino Visconti's film "The Innocent" with its romantic costumes from the 1900s with their silhouette of strangulated waists, accentuated busts, and voluminous puffed-up shoulders.

"Because it is for autumn and winter I used denser, more voluptuous, opulent fabrics, but I still wanted to keep lightness. Women don't want to feel weighed down."

As ever, Josse avoided bright colours, preferring muted shades, such as turtledove, smoke grey and amethyst.

His evening sheaths with ruched bodices or floaty off-the-shoulder gowns, with liquid drapery caught at the hip or behind, were ultra-feminine, but he showed a harder edge in ensembles like a black velvet asymmetric pullover over a stiff organza ball skirt.

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