Galliano's glamour in spiritual home of Dior

The audience at a Christian Dior couture show expects the clothes to be presented with a theatrical flourish, and John Galliano delivered. Held at 30 Avenue Montaigne in Paris, where Dior himself set up his grand salon, yesterday's show felt like a turbocharged take on the original couture shows of the late Forties and Fifties.

Galliano's models posed for France as they glided slowly between rooms in the salon, to the sound of galloping horses' hooves and neighing. And in a neat nod to the layers of inspiration on which modern fashion is built, John Galliano referenced the American designer Charles James, who in turn influenced Christian Dior and his seminal "New Look" of 1947.

Homages to James's flair for unusual colour combinations and the full, sculptural evening dresses he became famous for in the Forties were evident in the second half of the show. The top and bottom of dresses with swirled, draped or swagged skirts came in moss and plum, or sapphire and chocolate.

However, while the clothes – and the presentation – were certainly dramatic, Galliano also showed a uncharacteristic restraint. As a result it was easy to imagine a cream silk dress, that resembled a swirl of whipped cream, being coveted by an heiress for her wedding day, or a sculpted pink and claret ballgown triumphing on the best dressed lists at the Oscars. A final dress, with its beaded bodice in pale pink silk, giant bow at the waist and scalloped skirt in grey tulle, was romantic enough to melt the hardest of hearts. No one needs a couture dress, but only the most practical and unromantic soul could sit through a Dior show without wanting one.

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