Right now, in the Paris hotel rooms of many fashion editors, there are bunches of flowers, plastic-wrapped and raffia-tied. When they returned to their rooms after the Dior couture show today, did the attendees make the connection between what they'd just seen on the catwalk and what was sitting in a vase in front of them? Stephen Jones created headgear that looked like a florist's plastic wrap. Someone else contributed the raffia belts. And nature did the rest. "It's the most inspiring teacher," said John Galliano, after a show that was a hymn to all things floral.
Part of his research involved studying real flowers, spending an hour watching the light change on a parrot tulip, for instance. That partly explained the collection's wonderful colors, especially the vibrancy of the dégradé effects. You could attribute the rest to Galliano's contemplation of images by the two great flower photographers de nos jours, Irving Penn and Nick Knight. Dior himself obliged with the silhouette, a tulip shape that Galliano seemed to feel Mr. Christian had never really made the most of. He certainly sorted that out.
Perhaps it was the precision of the inspiration that accounted for the show's clarity, not only in the palette but in the delicate techniques. The fronding, the feathering, the ruching, the ruffling—all duplicated the extraordinary intricacies of flowers. Delicate they may be in nature, but his objects of study gave Galliano free rein to be bold with a coat like a huge inverted daffodil and a dress in black taffeta that was hand-painted with pansies. It's unlikely that when he compared himself to a jardinière tending his blooms, the designer had attendees like Blake Lively, Jessica Alba, and Lou Doillon in mind, but you could imagine them being seduced by his hybrids, the jacket and skirt combinations like the white felt over lilac organza, or the jade mohair with a swoop of portrait neckline over a petaled bubble of black organza.
In an Edenic fashion world, this would be the daywear that would fully complement evening dresses of an extraordinary dimension—gigantic domes of tulle overlaid with gloriously colored swags of organza. On the opening day of the Paris couture, the casual insolence of the draped one-shoulder outfit that closed the show was a provocation. "Beat this," it declared.