If anyone ever pondered the question of how a Dior couture show would play minus the smoke, mirrors, deafening music, extravagant sets, and locations—and haven't we all?—now we know. For Fall, John Galliano took the collection back to the dove gray salons of the Christian Dior headquarters in the Avenue Montaigne to show almost in the way the clothes were traditionally presented to clients and the press in the 1950's. And to be honest, sans the heart-pounding stress, stadium-size crowds, and general hurly-burly, it was a lovelier, more intimate parade to behold.

Galliano said he'd been inspired by behind-the-scenes documentary photographs taken more than half a century ago as Monsieur Dior dressed his cabine of mannequins for shows. The conceit of half-dressed models informed the collection, so that hip-emphasizing basques, girdles, lace-edged slips, and petticoats were hybridized into brightly colored variations on the classic wasp-waisted silhouette of Dior's New Look. The effects—reworked Bar peplum jackets, draped bubble skirts, padded-hip coats, and full-skirted evening gowns—came punched up with a zinging palette of orange, lime, raspberry, and yellow, contrasted with the pretty flesh tones of fifties under-things. Nothing particularly novel, or even mildly shocking, but Galliano turned that to his advantage. It's a moment when reemphasizing house values is a wise tactical move.