Let us not be so prosaic as to ask exactly what Joan of Arc, Siouxsie Sioux, Botticelli, and the forties French film actress Arletty may have to do with one anotherwe've arrived in the parallel universe known as John Galliano's Christian Dior. So, on with the show! It¿s a parade of medieval warrior-women in gilded chain mail, copper verdigris gowns, and glass diadems, each equipped with an armored sleeve. It's a bizarre troupe of goth-punks in outsize black-and-red folded 3-D shapes fashioned from trash-bag plastic. It's a mincing line of forties ladies in pea-green and magenta doublet-jacketed crepe suits sporting lobster parts for hats. And then it's a perambulating collection of Tuscan topiary, with pennants and trumpets poking out atop.
All thisand, be assured, there was moreplayed out against the backdrop of a Renaissance garden underneath a sky that alternated between blood-red storm clouds and a spinning astrological wheel taken from an illuminated manuscript. Such historicist games, richly yet randomly referenced, are, of course, part of the perverse delight of any John Galliano presentation. This season, the connecting threads of his allusions even managed to make sense in places. He refined the dark-ages militarism that appeared earlier on Dior's ready-to-wear runway, explored the parallels between doublet and hose and tunics and leggings, and hinted at a surrealist subtext that seems a pretty apt response to the here and now. Between the theatrics, there were also some amazingly covetable draped gowns in sugarplum, white, and peach. These showed up just before the finale: Galliano dropping in to take his bow, dressed as a spaceman.