Christian Dior Haute Couture A/W11

Bill Gayten pulled out a playful collection in Paris, using lots of colour on both 50s and 80s inspired frocks

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Yesterday, Christian Dior showed its first couture show sans John. It would have been fair to expect the house to pull a new, hip designer out of a hat, in hope for a makeover, and to flush away the sour after taste left at Galliano’s recent trial and tribulations. Instead, like Christian Lacroix recently did, the house turned to the previous designer’s long-time assistant, Bill Gaytten. But when you are better known for your applications of someone’s taste than developing your own (although we’re sure there is a lot more Gaytten in previous collections than we’re aware off), what do you do? How do you honour the recent creative history, please the customers, and infuse a touch of your own?

While John had always been playful, his dresses were no joke: though humor-ridden, they were intense in couture and fabric treatment. This collection demonstrated a certain lightness, a freshness, like a 50s revival in the 80s: Christian Dior's New Look was respected, in clean high waist jackets and wide skirts. This was pumped up with organza shoulder pads and boleros, a mix of patterns and pastel, and hats by Stephen Jones. The collection evolved into pencil skirt, large flower appliqués, followed by floor-length, Oscar-worthy dresses, and finished with a series of large dresses brimming with fabric, mid-way between 19th century ball wear and Jean Paul Gaultier’s designs for Pedro Almodovar. Something old, something new – is Bill Gayten here to stay?

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