The pattern of runway events at Christian Dior is forming a kind of paradigm of what fashion, and its marketing, are about now. As a designer at one of the most powerful houses in the world, John Galliano must address multiple global audiences, with the tiny core of fashion-hungry critics at one end and a vast potential public of women who are looking for something to wear at the other. So this is how it pans out: The idea-fueled Dior mania is sectioned off for couture, while ready-to-wear strikes up a conversation directly with the customer.

That explains the settled-down atmosphere on the spring runway. This was a collection that spanned sensible gray Dior skirt-suits through wearably pretty dresses, with plenty of the obligatory, all-important, and this season gimmick-free chain-handled handbags. The soft, drapey, asymmetric necklined dresses, sprinkled with silver chain or tendrils of gold embroidery, ran through short to gown-length options in the prevailing spectrum of barely-there flesh tones. None of this generated the kind of news to put the fashion pack on trend alert, but it did carry the Galliano stamp in the armor detailing of the suits (translated from last couture) and in the signature drift of his dresses. That placed Dior firmly in the business-like arena of appropriately of-the-moment dressing, a zone an established Parisian label like this has every right to occupy. For the next creative surge forward, watch January's couture.