Dior in X-ray vision at Paris couture shows

PARIS, Emma Charlton- Dior conjured an X-ray vision of the fashion house's history, with a 1950s-themed collection in luminous layers of sheer silk as it headlined day one of the Paris haute couture shows on Monday.
All eyes were on Dior for its second couture line since the chaotic departure of John Galliano last March, after a first one shown in the summer by the designer's former right-hand man Bill Gaytten failed to convince.
And this time it was all smiles after the show in Dior's lush Paris salons.

Dior in X-ray vision at Paris couture shows
"This is more me," a visibly relieved Gaytten told reporters.
"It's what I have been doing for a long, long time," added the British designer, who has politely endured months of questioning about Galliano's succession at Dior -- where he himself has worked these past 16 years.
Like at the ready-to-wear shows last autumn, classic Dior silhouettes defined the look, all 1950s-style nipped waists with knee-length skirts, either figure-hugging straight or A-shaped with layers of bouncy silk.
The twist, as Gaytten explained backstage, was to play on transparencies to expose the structure of the clothes -- adding a generous dose of sensuality into the mix in the process.
"It was like an X-ray vision of Dior, but actually seeing through the clothes," he said.
"So the things we know are inside the clothes -- like layers of organza and stitching, are exposed."
US top model Karlie Kloss opened the show in a white coat of layered silk, semi-sheer over the breasts, with lacquered black belt and generous knee-length skirt embroidered with graphic black roses -- another house code.
The same model was repeated in white on black, its sleeves swelling like giant, feather-light petals around the elbow.
Followed a roll-call of aerial day dresses, with black and white dominating the palette, layered in transparencies to suggest a shimmering grey, along with accents of aubergine and beige.
There were three stand-out pieces in Dior red, one of them a kimono-style blouse with nipped, bar suit-style waist, above a pencil skirt with embroidered red hound's tooth pattern -- yet another Dior "code".
Hair was curled and bobbed just below the nape, and the models wore soft leather gloves reaching above the elbow -- another Dior classic.
There were black crocodile jackets, gently folded over the breast, worn above ample A-line skirts, or a black crocodile sheath dress with a bow-shaped flounce at the hip.
A dotted-line motif, was embroidered on seams, like on a pleated-front beige sheath dress, to suggest the stitching within.
For evening, Dior's woman slid into fairytale ball gowns with sumptuous embroidered bodices and cascading skirts -- some with a structured bustle, like one model in a pale grey and white check.
And for the finale: a low-cut bodice in Dior red with endless, floor-sweeping flounced skirts.
"I lost my breath after the first four," the US actress Cameron Diaz told AFP after the show. "The fabrics were sexy and feminine."
With Dior sales booming, the jewel of Bernard Arnault's luxury empire has been in no hurry to announce a successor to Galliano, who has vanished from public view since he was sacked over a drunken, racist outburst last March.
The fashion house posted a turnover of 705 million euros ($890 million) for the first three quarters of 2011, up 21 percent on the period in 2010.
Dior's chief executive Sidney Toledano -- who said Christmas sales had been "excellent" -- was full of praise for Gaytten's work, its "great femininity and elegance", but kept mum on the issue of Galliano's succession.
Asked whether he himself could step up to the top job, Gaytten did not stop smiling as he replied: "No comment."

Tuesday, January 24th 2012
Emma Charlton

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