The prettiness of today's Christian Dior show may have felt like a safe move, but after the beating Bill Gaytten and his team took following a misjudged Couture collection, who can blame them? The expectations facing Dior's first prêt-à-porter show since John Galliano's ouster were mixed—or maybe just muddied by the endless roundelay of succession speculation that has turned the label into a fashion soap opera. So what Gaytten and co. delivered may have been the only sane response to an impossible situation: head back to ground zero, the archives where the Dior legacy rests untroubled by the wayward to-and-fro-ing of topical vagaries. It was an especially timely move, given that haute couture's past has exerted an unholy influence over prêt-à-porter's present this season. Time to remind the world that Dior owns a lot of those looks.

So a dressed-up mood ran through the entire collection, not simply the gazar and organza that so many of the outfits were cut from, but the classic Bar jacket, modernized with a wider neckline; the Grace Kelly dress with the wrapped bodice; the orange-red silk and tulle dance number tied at the waist with a huge bow. And the evening section that closed the show felt like an immaculate parade of Hollywood legend Adrian's Art Deco gowns.