Dior changes direction with a show stripped of the usual flash

Stripped of the cartoon glamour and self-conscious flash that has dominated the Christian Dior catwalk for many seasons, John Galliano's show yesterday was a lesson in how a designer with a clear vision can maintain the relevancy of a fashion brand. It was a timely reminder.

Stripped of the cartoon glamour and self-conscious flash that has dominated the Christian Dior catwalk for many seasons, John Galliano's show yesterday was a lesson in how a designer with a clear vision can maintain the relevancy of a fashion brand. It was a timely reminder.

Barely a day into the autumn/winter 2005 Paris collections, the industry was digesting the news that Dior's LVMH stablemate, Givenchy, had appointed Riccardo Tisci, a barely-known designer, as its creative director.

The profitable impact that Galliano's designs have on Dior's luxury goods, from lipsticks to haute couture dresses, make it the historic fashion house by which others are judged.

From the opening outfit - a black-and-white mohair sweater dress worn with flat knee-high boots and postboy cap - Galliano demonstrated why it is worth hiring a single-minded designer to lead a studio. After the opening Edie Sedgwick-inspired outfits, Galliano sent out army-green parkas over prettily frayed and pleated dresses, or with gold lamé trousers frosted with crystals at the hem. These flashy moments should keep Dior's pizzazz-hungry clients - such as Diana Ross, who sat in the front row - happy. The merry sense of clash and contrast was also present in Galliano's short balloon dresses, cut from ruby red panne velvet and hitched with utilitarian D-rings. This collection, which echoed the haute couture show in January, represents a significant change of direction for Galliano and Dior. The British-born designer jettisoned his usual pounding disco soundtrack - replaced by two pianists playing 1960s hits - and the raised catwalk, his models instead striding along the floor.

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