Enter the back-to-front jacket as Galliano adds touch of surrealism

JOHN GALLIANO was in surrealistic mood at his haute couture show for Christian Dior in Paris yesterday. There were jewel-encrusted fastenings shaped like oversized eyes with clock faces for irises, suits with jackets worn back-to-front and even a Magritte painting lookalike escorting a model to her pedestal centre stage.

Galliano has been criticised for sacrificing fashion to spectacle, and there is no doubt that the scale of past theatrics has threatened to overwhelm the clothes.

This time, however, the collection was shown in the far more intimate surroundings of the Dior salon, to no more than 60 people at a time.

It looked more lovely for it; the Dior atelier is the most accomplished in the world, and it was good to be so close to the clothes you could hear the silk rustle.

Galliano's signature curvy jackets and wide-legged trousers were as finely executed as his bias-cut dresses, and this collection demonstrated a balanced juxtaposition between the two.

The designer introduced his presentation. "I'm interested in the gentle side of surrealism," he said. "And in the fact that what you see isn't always what you get."

To this end, there were rectangular sequins, purses for pockets and fine jersey printed to look like Prince of Wales check.

As one beautiful ensemble after another came out, there was no doubt that the moneyed couture customer would find plenty to choose from. You could almost see the dollar signs reflected in Dior executives' eyes.

It's been a good week for them. As LVMH, (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton) continues to increase its interest in Gucci - it now owns a 26.7 per cent stake of the Italian fashion and luxury goods company - the fashion conglomerate is back making headlines. LVMH shares rose 11 eruos last Friday.

Christian Dior is, of course, the jewel in the LVMH crown, and Galliano, the house's designer-in-chief, has proved once again that he will not disappoint.