“You should be dancing. Yeah!” Before his Dior Couture show began, John Galliano treated his audience to an ear-blasting soundtrack of the Bee Gees’ greatest hits. It was an appropriate and uplifting intro to an exuberant performance that opened with a group of fiery flamenco gypsies, stamping the runway in flounced skirts, corsetry, and wickedly mannish, form-swathing jackets, their eyes flashing and matches clamped between their teeth. The collection, which has turned into a kind of fashion travelogue over the past few seasons, turned out to be a journey through dance culture, taking in tango, Charleston, ballet, cha-cha, cancan, hip-hop, raga, and acid house along the way.
In another sense, this was a return trip to Galliano’s roots: luxuriating in cross-references while showing off a unique talent for feisty femininity. He pitched leotards, legwarmers, track jackets, and track pants into a layered mêlée of beautiful dresses that exploded with ballroom ruffles, shot out in tulle Swan Lake skirts, or shimmied in liquid-silver lamé. A flapper came on wearing an exquisitely fragile embroidered petal dress; a Theda Bara look-alike vamped in fringe, only to be upstaged by a Crazy Horse showgirl in spangles and a towering pink ostrich headdress. And so it went: a multicolor, neon-print extravaganza that, refreshingly, didn’t stumble into seven-inch platforms, scary faces, or abstract overkill.
It seemed like Galliano’s most heartfelt Dior show in a long while, and for good reason. The designer said afterward that it was an homage to his Gibraltarian father, who passed away last week. “We danced flamenco at his funeral,” the designer confided. “It’s important to remember where we come from.” In more ways than one, this collection was a life-affirming celebration of all Galliano holds dear.