The "giant haystack" designer was given a standing ovation by the audience, which included Mrs Chirac and Paloma Picasso. Mr Ferre took over from Marc Bohan, who took the job from Yves Saint Laurent in 1960. Saint Laurent was the designer Dior chose to succeed him shortly before his death in 1957.
There are rumours that the American designer Marc Jacobs may take the post, but the doors must be wide open. Last season, the avant-garde minimalist designer Helmut Lang was rumoured to be taking over at Balenciaga and, in some ways, a fresh young name would put Dior back on track as the innovative house it once was. Our own Vivienne Westwood, with her flair for fashion history, could certainly be the woman for the job.
Ferre's final collection for Dior was on the theme of the Orient, with clothes for Indian princesses and an Arabian Scheherazade - a fantasy woman not far from the reality of the clients who may order a gold lace embroidered one-shoulder sari dress, or a fitted jacket encrusted in embroidery and heavy with gold lame.
The pieces most likely to sell were the simple fitted suits, a diamante striped trouser suit for evening, or a candy-pink column dress and mohair coat.
The model Naomi Campbell was did not seem much enamoured of the clothes she was wearing, and made rapid passages down the catwalk, making it as difficult as possible for the photographers to snap her.
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