After fifteen years at Christian Dior, John Galliano was fired for inveterate alcoholism and being rather racist this spring. While Galliano fights a court case, Dior has dragged its feet in replacing him. So the brand went ahead with a couture show in Paris yesterday without a new designer. The pieces in the collection ranged from brightly colored to very sparkly to extremely ruffled, with no apparent theme. Something about "roses" was mentioned. (Galliano did a rather spectacular couture collection based on flowers one year ago.) And something about "modern architecture." (I really can see the influence of Saarinen in that twirly-candystripe skirt...not.) It was, in short, a mess. And the critics hated it.
Bill Gaytten, a longtime studio assistant of Galliano who specializes in pattern-cutting, might have been expected to offer up a placeholder collection: something boring, in a sumptuous way, with the kind of tried-and-true historicism (why not pillage the '50s? Everyone loves the '50s! The '50s are the safest of choices!) that would generate the kind of brand buzz that sells Dior lipsticks and perfumes at duty free counters in airports the world over. Instead, we got...psychedelic clown couture. And cubic hats. Props for ambition?
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The Times critic Cathy Horyn opined, "All sorts of weird vibes, along with a lack of design leadership, have a way of surfacing in clothes. A runway is like a shrink's couch; stuff just comes out."
And she said "I like Mr. Gaytten. He's a sweetheart, but he is not a designer."
By the way, this is what the models looked like leaving the venue with that hair.
Suzy Menkes at the International Herald Tribune didn't hold back, either: "all the whirling chiffon, sherbet colors and 'let's dance' music — nor the fantastical work of Dior's studios — could conceal a basic fact. Regardless of charges that he was sozzled with drink, off-his-head on pills or wildly ranting, John Galliano brought to the house a finesse and exquisite lightness that, with his departure, has blown away like confetti in the wind."
Gaytten claimed his influences for the collection included the architecture of Frank Gehry and Jean-Michel Frank.
Gaytten admitted backstage that he is hoping to be named Galliano's successor at Christian Dior. (Parent company Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy appointed him Galliano's successor at John Galliano last week.) But LVMH distanced itself from Gaytten after the show, putting out a statement reiterating that there has been no announcement of a new creative director for Dior, and that Gaytten designed this collection in his capacity of Dior studio manager.
I'm pretty sure Karlie Kloss is thinking, "I will zombie death-ray model-smize my way through this Pierrot cow-print travesty and you will like it."