Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dior: Saved by the Butterflies

My disclaimer here is that I love a good period piece as much as anyone... sometimes for the costumes alone. And, you know, since vintage fashion from pretty much every era abounds and could easily inspire any designer, I understand this collection in theory. However, instead of sticking to a theme (which, in my opinion, is kind of what makes a collection more than just a bunch of pretty clothes thrown willy-nilly onto a runway), Mr. Galliano's models seem to have passed through a randomness generator/time machine on their way onto the catwalk. What's more, he doesn't (in my humble opinion) appear to be doing anything terribly original with these designs... it's as if he took clothes that would actually have been in style during various periods of American history and tweaked them just enough to give the impression of novelty while actually boring me to death. If this were the 10th Annual Costume Design Runway Show or something, I might applaud. But it's not. It's Paris Fashion Week.

Exhibit C: Christian Dior, spring/summer 2010:

HORSEPLAY: Of course the clothes are lovely. I actually like them a lot. I'm just not convinced that directly copying equestrienne style from the turn of the century can realllly classify as creative couture. As I have said before, I believe that fashion is an art form. Maybe my predilection for abstract and impress-/expressionist art (as opposed to equestrian portraiture--all of those oil paintings of nouveau- ou vieux-riche ladies sitting stiffly atop horses surrounded by bassett hounds don't exactly titillate me) is hindering my artistic appreciation of these garments (couture:costumery what expressionism:portraiture... or something... ), but there is something about them that is too... not exactly artless, but... I don't know, you know? So anyway, I call this whole group "horseplay" because the first half appears to include costumery for the England 1920s period film "The Hunting Party: Finding a Husband in the Forest" and the second half of short frilly dresses and extravagant hats looks vaguely "Renoir Goes to the Races" (or, "What Not to Wear when Moving Westward in a Covered Wagon").

HOUSEPLAY: Suddenly, we're in the fifties and sixties. These looks first made me think of Mad Men mania and the dynamic of the new career woman versus the housewife, Betty Freidan-style. But I don't really like them. While the first part of the collection was at least visually stimulating, these dresses are kind of a big yawn. I like the colorful over-the-elbow leather gloves the most of everything that I see here, but because they are merely stylistic accessories I disqualify them. Blah blah blah halter dresses, I don't even have anything to say about you.

GOWNPLAY: Um, what? I don't even remotely like these. 1) I see a rather lovely white gown, the shape a classic straight-shot to the floor. But what is that behind her? A large blue whale, cupping her decolletage with grabby-fins? 2) A gown that also acts as a shelf? The perfect dress/tray for the Hostess with the Most-Appetizers-to-Carry-Around? Perhaps an over-done diversion from the dreaded "baby-bump?" What woman wants to walk around in a fancy ball gown simulating a pelvic explosion? 3) ACE bandage, anyone?

And because I wondered if perhaps Dior has a reputation for being a bit "costume-y," I delved deeper and discovered the gem of a collection that was Spring 2009:

I can overlook (and maybe even appreciate) the weirdly circularly-structural bell skirts (I bet they look like flowers and/or honeycomb from below!). There is something about these dresses that I actually really like--the combination of color scheme, fabrics&textures and styling (that big frizzy hair!)--it just makes aesthetic sense and, as a result, pleases my eyes :)

Now THESE dresses, I love. There may be something a little bit Laura Ashley about them, but they immediately made me think of an antique field guide to butterflies. I'm still stuck on the constrast of a corset with a full skirt--it's suggestive of lingerie but still elegant and formal--and unlike the gathering of gown #2 from Spring 2010 (above), the gathering on these gowns is just gorgeous. Look at that ruffle--and underneath! What a treat! I love&want all of these pretties to hang on my wall.

DISCLAIMER #2: I actually did begin to craft this post back when PFW was still newsworthy, but life took hold of me...

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