This spring, turn fiery red!
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John Galliano dipped into revolutionary France for his spectacular spring haute couture collection for Christian Dior that was imbued with both red hot passion and a creative lightness.
From the word go, the effect was pure drama, heightened by the soundtrack of swishing swords and neighing horses. For starters, the British designer sent out a blood-red embroidered satin cape as a taster of what was to come - red, red and more red.
As Galliano said in his crimson-coloured show notes "Red is the New Libertine", and a scarlet voluminous dress was breathtaking with a jet black cross hanging around the neck and adorned with black embellishment.
Another ecclesiastical overtone came in the form of a black hooded coat - until the eye reached down to the richly glittering thick band edging the bottom.
But the creative strength of haute couture was also much on display in Galliano's highly structured use of leather, which he described as "the new luxury". As well as trousers, jackets and dresses, the models all wore heavy brown boots.
These set off the lightness of the garments created out of masses of fine fabrics such as tulle, chiffon and taffeta, that was often heavily draped and seemingly effortlessly sculpted.
Light veils were wrapped around the heads of the models, who all wore white frizzy wigs. One had 1789 written on her chest.
Laces ran up trouser legs, boots, corsets and on the back of garments offering another historical reference. For the finale, a light-as-air wedding dress floated in embroidered ecru crin, lace and tulle, with a veil off one shoulder.
French actor Jean Reno and Ivana Trump attended the show, which culminated with the designer, ever the showman, making a dramatic appearance, fencing sword in hand, to take his traditional bow.
Portugal's Felipe Oliveira Baptista could not have offered a greater contrast to the theatrical Dior show, on the first day of the spring-summer 2006 haute couture collections being shown at various venues across the French capital until Wednesday.
Danger was uppermost on Oliveira Baptista's mind for his second appearance on the official couture calendar, as he sent out garments that he described to AFP afterwards as inspired by armour.
Under the cupola of the Palais de la Decouverte science museum, the collection appeared minimalist with a somber palette of black, white, big black and white checks and murky turquoise.
But with every garment, the designer explored the art of structure, crafting tops of dresses out of sharply cut shapes, strips and panels, asymmetrical or overlapping, but fitting together and held by pins.
This was teamed over light, narrowly pleated skirts or a sloping waistline, like the fringes of the models' cropped pageboy haircuts.
A large wing motif standing off the shoulder, or a gun holster-shaped cut-out over a chocolate brown dress added both witty and military touches to a collection which the designer said had set out to explore "the contrast between fragility and danger".
Ruffles added a flourish, cascading down the front of a dress, while sequins traced a sparkly outline on a simple black dress falling above the knee and lapels curled obediently outwards on a white trouser suit.
Valentino, the Italian master of red carpet glamour, unveils his couture vision later on Monday.
First Published: Jan 24, 2006 18:27 IST