What the Critics Said and What They Really Meant About Dior Couture

See it? Photo: imaxtree, Getty Images

Fashion has two Christmases, you know — those heavenly days on which John Galliano shows his spring and fall couture collections for Christian Dior. And yesterday was our summertime Christmas, as Galliano sent another amazing couture collection down the runway. While we're too busy drooling over the clothes to form coherent sentences about them, the fashion critics certainly cooked up lots of flowery prose. We've gathered their remarks below and translated them into normal English.


Two years ago John Galliano was having tea with Irving Penn when the photographer started telling tales about “his beloved wife Lisa Fonssagrives.”

Hardly a quantum leap to an haute homage, Galliano-style. Still, the designer had other motifs to get out of his system first, including last season’s inflationary tale that was big on pouffery, if not practicality. Did someone say counterpoint?

What it means: Galliano was inspired by photographs of Lisa Fonssagrives, and his clothes last season were so puffy that you could sit down in them by just leaning back a bit.

Hadley Freeman in The Guardian:

The tiny stumble by the model at the end was the only suggestion of anything other than utter confidence at the Christian Dior show in Paris, which opened the couture fashion week.

And in truth, the perilous lurch probably had more to do with her outfit - a corset-like top half covered in crystals worn with an enormous tulle skirt which folded around her in giant pleats, giving her the appearance of a winged sea creature - than anything as distasteful as uncertainty.

What it means: It's a damn good thing she didn't fall (could you imagine?!). And this is likely the only article on the show to mention her wobble.

Hilary Alexander in the Telegraph:

Underlying the attention-seeking transparency, however, was a meticulous attention to sculptural cut and architectural shape, inspired by M. Christian Dior’s original “New Look” of 1947 and his curvaceous “Bar” jacket, and the iconic first super-model, Lisa Fonssagrives, wife of the fashion photographer, Irving Penn.

Galliano re-worked these themes with a modernist touch, which at times veered towards the gladiatorial. He used wide corset-belts in studded black patent, fuchsia leather and pastel snakeskin, which flared out into winged peplums at the hip, to emphasise the extreme hourglass shape of tailored day-suits and coats with full skirts.

What it means: Galliano brought back the Bar jacket (shaped with sloping shoulders, a nipped waist, and flared hips), but since they were all Galliano-ized, they made the models look like gladiators.

Suzy Menkes for the International Herald Tribune:

The feline-faced models with arched eyebrows and succulent, shiny lips were so much in the spirit of Carla Bruni Sarkozy that you half expected her to appear at the finale in the vista of a pillared garden. And the approach that the designer John Galliano has taken in dressing the wife of the French president was the soul of this autumn-winter show: incisive cutting on clothes molded to the body, with a subterranean sexual charge. Or, in the case of this runway, with a sensual shadow of a leg visible through a semi-sheer skirt.

What it means: Galliano designed these clothes with Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in mind, but instead of making the outfits overtly sexual (though if we may say so, we didn't find Bruni's outfits to have sexual undertones), he just put a bunch of see-through skirts on his models.

Sarah Mower for Style.com:

The templates were all there: big coats, wasp waists, nipped jackets, circle skirts, tulle dance dresses, architectural gowns cut from spiraling lace and jutting scrolls of crin. Mostly framed in black and white, with tints of gray, caramel, Parma violet, mint, and chartreuse to follow, the shapes traced familiar silhouettes—albeit a familiarity shot through with Galliano's irrepressible touches of perversity.

What it means: The clothes were bulky in the most expected and gorgeous of ways. But Galliano just couldn't help himself from, you know, throwing in the see-through stuff, which no one really saw coming.

Fall 08 Paris Couture: Christian Dior Slideshow