We got a posh French moment, almost a minimalist fashion statement from Christian Dior, where the house's women's wear designer Bill Gaytten staged his most assured collection to date.
This show, staged Friday, March 2, in the Rodin Museum, was his fourth so far for Dior, and the first where the audience was primarily focused on the clothes and not on Gaytten's possible successor.
The result was a highly confident display of chic modern dressing though with a large dose of the Dior signature DNA. The silhouette was nipped at the waist, the dresses finished below the knee, the mood was refined, the color palette subtle and, admirably, there were lots of Monsieur's classic bows.
"Monsieur Dior invented the New Look. This is a new, new look for Dior. Cleaned up, and with the details very carefully edited," Gaytten said backstage.
What worked best were the putty hued glove leather blouses, swirling hyper pleated silk dresses, ans boucle wool jackets with simple, yet erratic, squiggle embroidery. Moreover, in fashion's most fur dominated season in memory, most notably several heroically cut tunic coats in luscious mink.
And Gaytten had plenty of new accessories - always a big money earner for Dior - like the squiggle print on fabric bags with the classic Dior metal key ring or stack-heeled ballet pumps that looked sexily spruce.
Gaytten might lack the runway fireworks of other major houses in Paris, but this was a runway rippling with high-quality merchandise, all of it in synch with the Dior aesthetic. And it helped that few people pre-show even mentioned the names of possible successors, a striking change from Gaytten's first three Dior shows.
High ranking executives from LVMH, whose Chairman Bernard Arnault, personally controls Dior, were openly dismissive of rumors earlier this year that Dior was still considering Raf Simons for the post of creative director. "That is not going to happen," said one executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The striped-back intent of this collection was also clear from the entrance into the Rodin Museum, a huge wall in the house's signature dove gray featuring just the word Dior. Gone was the Christian or even the CD signs previously so prominent at this brand's previous shows. Even the setting was mega pure , a silvery runway, and enormous, yet delicate, curtains in a smart, high-tech reinterpretation of Dior's Avenue Montaigne headquarters.
Gaytten did take plenty of risks with his colors, a subtle palette of dark mauves, burnt earth and scorched blacks. "Mark Rothko, soft Rothko," said Gaytten, dressed dandily in matching black shirt and jacket, unshaven and looking very at ease. However, to become the new master of this house, he needs to amp it up a tiny bit more in the fashion show fireworks department as a Dior show can easily live with looks which were solely created for the runway and which give an idea of the designer's imagination. Gaytten is still playing it very safe.