How badly do you need a couturier? Well, how badly do you need pants?John Galliano's recent collections for Dior have made the art of making clothing visible. He's been sending gowns down the runway that show you what they're made of. He's turned them inside out, with crinoline as their top layer and gorgeous brocade underskirts peeking out from beneath. No, he doesn't don a hard hat (or maybe he does? I could sooo see that happening.) but Galliano's workmanship on these transparent garments qualifies him as a very fashionable construction worker.
With the start of couture season in Paris this week, the inevitable question on everyone's mind in the current economic climate is, "What place does couture have in a recession?". Galliano's most recent collection, shown on July 6th, deftly answers that inquiry. In fact, Galliano's penchant for exposing the underpinnings of his garments in recent times has been building this answer all along--it's an artform. There are so many skilled laborers involved in making couture. It's an industry that employs specifically capable hands, many of them. Showing the bones and bearings of his well-built gowns puts the craft of couture on clear display and claims it as an art.
There is always a place for art in society, rich or poor. There will always be people wealthy enough to purchase couture. That's just a fact. Dior is synonymous with couture and the art deserves to go on, whether or not the public at large deems it necessary. It's art. It makes life magic. To fully illuminate that magic Galliano smartly curtailed his usually lavish staging and theatrics, choosing to show his latest collection in the cabines of the Dior studios. That restraint allowed people to focus on the art of his craft even more.
Shoes were all corset hooks and bra clasps.
Pat McGrath's classic cabine mannequin makeup and Orlando Pita's kinky crimps.
And crafty it was. In various stages of unreadiness and undress, Galliano sent his models out to be viewed by the invited guests half-clothed. Bras, panties, garters, and girdles made very prominent appearances. In my mind this is Galliano's tongue in cheekiest statement about the relevance of the couturier. How necessary is a couture-capable designer? Well, how badly do you want your skirt? You need him, ladies and gentlemen, you need him. That black bra, while smashingly sutured and well-built, is no proper lady's day dress. Ensembles are in need of a capable designer and some rather skilled hands, otherwise, they are just bits and pieces. They are unfinished and unready. You need the couturier; you need Galliano. And even if you don't need him, he's not going anywhere. He's too smart to disappear. And, he's fun to have around, isn't he?
The construction worker and his girls.
All photos via style.com.