Christian Dior S/S 2010 / PFW / Day three

Anyone who thinks tough chic was an Eighties invention, all high glitz and déclassé, needs a brush-up on film noir, examples of which typically feature a strong-shouldered, holds-her-own kind of woman of sharp tongue and sharper mind who extracts herself from countless perilous, shadowy situations — while looking incredibly chic. John Galliano devoted his Dior spring show to the queen bee of such gals, Lauren Bacall, and her trench-wearing other half, Humphrey Bogart. And if the show didn’t quite live up to the promise of its high-intensity theme, it brought something essential to the season: beautiful clothes for women disinclined to embrace either girlish flou or club-crawler fare.

Galliano shunned discretion when establishing his theme: The set’s maze of imposing steel girders (“it could be inside the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty,” he said before the show) telegraphed danger even before a shadowy gunman appeared in pursuit of his latter-day Bacall. And out she came, Karlie Kloss, in ample Forties glory but for the abbreviated cut of her ultraleggy gray lamé trench.

That classic proved the collection’s most important leitmotif, as Galliano offered myriad coat and jacket versions. For less intrigue and more chichi, he worked in Bar jackets as well, including a wonderfully sporty cotton with a horseshoe neckline adapted from a late-Forties gown. Either way, Galliano replaced traditional suits with unmatched pairings, including those with satin tap pants and an embroidered tulle dress. “It’s younger,” he said. “The ladies will find matching pieces in the boutiques.”

They will also find, and undoubtedly love, accessible interpretations of the fabulous lingerie-based couture collection Galliano showed in July. Here, however, what appeared to be underlayers of corsets, slips and even hosiery borders were actually elements compiled in single-piece dresses, both short and long. Or, as he put it, “It’s design, not styling.” Sheer, fluid, sexy? Check, check, check. But the Forties influence and the designer’s impeccable control imparted an authoritative sophistication lacking on many other runways.

© by WWD / Photos by Giovanni Giannoni

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