Galliano reveals golden images fit for Cleopatra

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The Independent Online

A dress that carries a six-figure price tag is not destined for wallflowers. Opening the haute couture shows in Paris yesterday, John Galliano's spectacularly glitzy spring/summer 2004 collection for Christian Dior amply demonstrated this fashion truism.

Of the 31 exquisitely handsewn outfits in this Egyptian-themed show, the majority were gold. The snakeskin, crocodile and beading was a suitably dramatic palette for Galliano, whose theatrical fashion, inspired by fantastical themes, has set him apart from other couturiers. Despite its Aida theme, yesterday's show was a little more straightforward.

Unabashed glamour looks to be a safe way of keeping the haute couture clients faithful. There have been reports that a strong euro has made some American clients flinch at prices - and these are women who do not trouble themselves with the cost of anything. In fact there are only 300 or so women in the world who have the money and inclination to dress in this way.

However, an additional function of this most Parisian of loss leaders is to generate publicity.

This week Hollywood stars will be sizing up the extravagant clothes on display in Paris with a view to making an especially memorable entrance at the forthcoming Oscars and Golden Globes awards ceremonies. So at Dior, it was safe to assume that the giant golden masks of mummy's heads were intended for catwalk appeal alone. Instead, it is the elegant S-shaped silhouette favoured this season by Galliano which will flatter movie actresses' toned bodies.

Haute couture also enhances the creative credentials of a fashion brand. While Dior can claim healthy sales for its haute couture division, it is the images of the world's most beautiful models on the catwalk wearing the 24-carat Cleopatra look which will create desire for the brand's perfume and handbags. Dior recently announced plans to more closely market their make-up products with the thrilling fashion of Galliano. Many aspects of fashion have no rhyme or reason. Yesterday, Galliano's choice of colour scheme made perfect sense.

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