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Galliano's magic touch shines out

AN AWFUL lot rested on John Galliano's signature collection shown in Paris last night. His show for Christian Dior, which took place earlier in the week, was poorly received, fuelling speculation that the designer may be in danger of losing his magical touch.

The Dior collection was lack lustre, Galliano's detractors said, which is unfortunate given that he was clearly trying to offer up just the type of commercial look that, previously, they had said was needed. But unbridled creativity is Galliano's lifeblood: attempt to restrain it and the danger is that the designer will be suffocated altogether.

This would be a great loss to fashion. Because when John Galliano is good, he is very, very good - even the best of them all - as last night's show, at least in parts, amply demonstrated.

Which other designer could twist a boxy classic like the trench coat, transforming into the most sinuous, figure-hugging and elegant thing in the world? Who else would think of cutting away a pair of leather trousers so that only the most intricate filigree remained - it looked as if the model wearing them had dramatically tattooed legs.

Equally inventive - and new to his line - was a witty take on the classic Chanel suit: the familiar details looked sweetly coquettish embellishing what was in fact a figure-hugging knitted dress.

The John Galliano signatures were in place, of course. It is all too easy to dismiss the show-stopping bias-cut gowns that made him famous, but they are the most lovely in the world, this time round in rich shades of plum and heather.

Less successful were the Poiret coats which have caught his fancy for the past few seasons. They are more bulky than his typically languid line and, even on the most enviably long and lean, looked enormously difficult to wear.

Models posturing, pouting and camping it up to the nines were equally an unwanted distraction, taking away from, rather than adding to the brilliant inventiveness of so many of the clothes.