If you're getting into the forties this season (and that's definitely one way to go), John Galliano is the man to fulfill those latent Joan Crawford urges, no holds barred. His ready-to-wear collection for Christian Dior was virtually a camp-fabulous Hollywood spectacularlike a pumped-up 2007 remake of The Women (Cukor, 1939; ever a fashion favorite), but this time played out in full glorious purple, pistachio, electric blue, and fuchsia, rather than black and white.
As a comeback from last season's comparatively muted collection, this was Galliano performing at full throttle, filling the runway with 58 girls dressed, as grandma would say, to the nines. Partly, it was an homage to Diorthe dove-gray runway, the banked flowers, and the balustraded staircaseand partly it was, as the French rather awkwardly translate it, a collection "declined" from Galliano's triumphant Madame Butterfly haute couture collection for Spring. To "decline," in fashion-Franglais, means to take the wildly expensive handcrafted fantasies of couture and turn them into factory-produced lookie-likeys. Sometimes "declension" (here and elsewhere) can actually lead to declinei.e., disappointing commercial husks of the original thought. But now, in a flurry of energy and application, Galliano has upped the ante for Dior, reproducing believably close simulacra of such details as the origami-folding (see the suit pockets) and shortened versions of the multitiered ruffled skirts seen in his couture.
There was showiness and chic in this. The python jackets and ostrich swing coats with sleeves built out in fox were the declarative side, but a sensuous womanliness came through, too. Galliano's draping, ingeniously wrapped to the hip in a purple skirtsuit and a chartreuse day dress, or deployed as one-shouldered asymmetries and sashes for cocktail and evening, created husband-hunting outfits of a type guaranteed to net results, be it 1947 or 2007.