Galliano puts on a show at Dior

By Susannah Frankel
Tuesday 21 January 2003 01:00

Now in his seventh year at the helm of Christian Dior, John Galliano continues to drive it forward with a motivation and clarity of vision bordering on the possessed.

He knows that for all the big-budget advertising campaigns money can buy, nothing can replace the show itself, the aim of which is to inspire and excite and, in one dramatic shot, provide the fashion audience with the key to the six-month period ahead and the mainstream media with an instantly gratifying piece of the action to boot.

And so nothing as literal as the parading of single garments to be seen on this designer's catwalk. Instead, the show – and the haute couture show in particular – is all about spectacle. The core Dior customer, the designer argues, is familiar enough with the clothes to see through any pyrotechnic styling, hair and make-up to find the jacket, dress, trousers of the season.

And sothe biggest, brightest, boldest dresses the world has seen couldn't fail to bring a smile to even the most fashion-weary lips. Not content with parading gargantuan hybrid kimonos/parkas and bouncing feathered skirts and tops so ruffled models' tiny features barely peeped out, Galliano introduced the fiercest Chinese acrobats imaginable, whose antics cracked the crimson glass catwalk.

And the clothes? The couture customer is unlikely to order garments of such immense – to her mind, read unflattering – proportion, but a powder-blue leather jacket, a gold chantilly-lace sheath with fur trim and the loveliest cowl-necked beaded and embroidered floral chiffon gowns did get a look in.

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