Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt.
PARIS–Last July at the Rodin museum garden tent, John Galliano for Dior sent out vivid colorful dress inspired by flowers, some with three-dimensional shapes of petals, for the Dior Haute Couture show.
Yesterday, at the same site, it was the work of legendary fashion illustrator René Gruau that inspired Galliano’s couture collection for Dior. Gruau and Dior had a long creative collaboration and friendship, which began when Graua created a drawing of a swan for an ad for Miss Dior perfume in 1947. Gruau’s economic style–using blocks of light colors against simple black lines–defined the modernity of Mr. Dior’s audacious couture vision: bold lines and ambitious clothes beget uncomplicated elegance.
Silhouettes from the 1950s were done in the palettes of Mr. Gruau’s color gouache shades: a dégradé long sleeve dress with an asymmetrical falling neckline had an overlay of tulle which changed from light ice blue to transparent nude; a white fur coat had a splash of camel paint splattered on the front; the opening look of the show that turned from light red to dark wine resembled the separation of color paint on the illustrator’s mixing board; and an embroidered jacket in dark navy silk with forest green paired with a red silk skirt. Finally, a silk puff sleeve jacket with a silk skirt recalled the blocks of single colors favored by Gruau against white space.
Dior Haute Couture is about showing the house’s unique heritage and the house’s techniques and craftsmanship are probably unrivaled in Paris. When Karlie Kloss opened the show in her red coat, you could see the light reflecting off the black tulle covering–the changing color gradation underneath moving as if it were a living material. It would also be shortsighted to overlook the subtle shift to looser shapes that allow this movement to be seen. A small step forward is a big step forward in couture.