[Images via Style.com]
It’s ironic, given the current state of the world economy, that at least 90% of John Galliano’s looks for the Christian Dior Spring 2009 couture show seem inspired (and not at all subtly) by two of the most prosperous societies in European history: the Dutch Republic circa 1600 and 18th century, pre-Revolutionary Versailles. What’s amazing is that with each piece, Galliano both captures the luxurious spirit of the age that inspired it, and renders it decidedly modern through expert play with texture, weight, and proportion. The result is an enchanting revision of the past with modern implications for today’s fashion, as well as one of the best breaks from reality I’ve experienced in some time.
The logic of the collection is clear, organized into four groups, with each possessing defining characteristics. The first group contains outfits composed, for the most part, of large, bell-shaped skirts that hit just bellow the knee, fitted jackets with wide bottoms, tiny wastes, and large, puffy sleeves in sumptuous yellow, blue-green, blue-grey, and red jewel-tones seen in the paintings of Vermeer. The second group is a puritanical palate of black and white, with black jackets and white lace sleeves and collars that pop dramatically, while white dresses are adorned with elegant black bows, buttons, or repeating floral patterns. Four super-glam, off-white dresses with delicate floral motifs in lace or gold stitching constitute the third group, and are a slight departure from the theme, better invoking their 1930s-like feel. Galliano ends the collection with what I like to call the “cup-cake princess group,” consisting of dresses whose humungous floor-length skirts instantly recall the Versailles of the notorious Marie Antoinette.
But what is the kernel of fashion wisdom for spring you can draw from all my ambitious descriptions of the Christian Dior 2009 couture show? I’d say it’s that Galliano proves time and again that whether you’re donning a twenty thousand dollar couture dress, or something a little more modestly priced, contrast—good contrast—is key.