Christian Dior, Couture, AW11, Paris.
With all the excess that comes with a couture show, it would seem counter intuitive to suggest that the masters of the genre are able to exercise great restraint and discipline, but it was at the recent Christian Dior show (the first couture show sans Galliano) that this need for focus became obvious.
If we’d been paying attention, the clue to the excess of this couture collection was already visible when all those wonderful craftsmen and women took the stage at the end of the Autumn-Winter 2011 Ready-to-Wear collection. All those skills, all those wonderful possibilities and in the end the sheer volume of embellishments, layers of fabric, colours and prints was missing that vital element, the guiding hand of the experienced designer to tell us where to focus – when we were meant to be looking at the waist, when we needed to be looking at the décolletage, when a garment was all about focusing on the legs. In the end the layers of fantasy fabrics just created a lot of bulk around the body to the point where we weren’t sure what to take away from each garment. It’s not that there wasn’t anything beautiful to look at – it was more of a problem of there simply being too much going on.
The effect of the embellishments also made it hard to balance the silhouette of the garments. The below-the-knee skirt length becomes hard to keep flattering when you add wide shoulders, wide hips and don’t compromise by nipping the waist in to the slim corsetted proportion of a fashion illustration. Even the styling seemed to swamp some of the outfits – the long pleated dresses were paired with wild manes of hair, when they could have benefitted from an elegant bare neck, or more visible space around the shoulders.
At the end of the day though fashion is all about context and one eras trash is another eras treasure. It is because of this sense of context that this collection feels like a missed opportunity – maybe this much frou frou just isn’t quite the couture milestone we had hoped for in 2011. Especially from a legendary house such as Dior that has the creativity and the technical team to deliver excess and restraint within the one collection.
Catwalk images from Vogue.com»