Fashion for the well-heeled Barbie doll

Christian Dior was the first big name to show at the spring/summer 2009 collections in Paris yesterday and, suffice it to say, that the label currently best-known for dressing Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in suitably demure style has just turned up the voltage.

Gone was the chic, retro-tailoring reminiscent of Jackie Kennedy Onassis in favour of a wardrobe that seemed more suited to a well-heeled Barbie doll than anyone more stately. If this seemed like a somewhat dramatic about-turn, it was also an energetic one. Out came a procession of tiny chiffon dresses, either strapless, halterneck or – most jauntily – racer-backed, with waists cinched tight and sunray pleat skirts that flipped about saucily as models walked.

These were best in bright sunshine colours – sky blue, marigold yellow, tangerine and fuchsia – and all were worn with corsetry that whispered of 1950s foundation garments proudly on display. The same silhouette came later grazing the ankle, though still sheer with aforementioned underwear the only thing keeping modesty intact.

Lest anyone should be in any doubt that the Dior designer, the British-born John Galliano, had sex in mind, the sky-high heels of ankle-strapped, platform-soled sandals were decorated with tiny fertility goddesses – pregnant and proud – in silver, gold and ivory. Towering hair-pieces, finely plaited, then piled up to mimic the graphic silhouette of an up-turned urn, only added to the impression that these were quite the tallest, leanest, most voracious creatures the catwalk has seen for some time.

Given the current economic climate, the message was there's little room for subtlety in such troubled times, after all. Forget covered-up and subtly suggestive dressing, then, in favour of a considerably more impolite aesthetic aimed squarely at those who like their fashion over- rather than under-stated and have gym-honed bodies to match.