“Elegance is aura (…) it is composed of will and knowing, of grace, sophistication, perfection and distinction.” - René Gruau, Fashion illustrator for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar (in the 50s)
The inspiration for the Paris Haute Couture: Christian Dior Spring/Summer 2011 show by John Galliano was the acclaided illustrator Rene Gruau and his sweeping impressions of fashion. Rene was around in the golden age of fashion, where volume and detail were key. Dior's 'New Look' in 1946 outraged most post-war citizens with it's use of excess fabric to create a voloumious silhouette reminiscent of a flower, round shoulders, a wasp waist and a full skirt.
What Gailliano has done in this collection has combined the fullness and feminine classic 'New Look' with the wispful and fluid illustrations Gruau produced during the time. With Gailliano's own eye for detail the the result is a masterpiece of colour, shape and detail.
The colours harked back to the post war era with rich crimson, creams and ivory. On the darker crimson pieces a graduating shadow of black swept the pieces, maybe a representation of the modern adaption 'coming out of the shadows' into the light.
The models posture and walks oozed elegance with a twee twist. The girls wore long opera style gloves reminiscent of the great movie stars of the mid 1900's and mirrored the hand movements and pointed fingers seen in many perfume adverts decades earlier.
Keeping with the show's theme, the make-up was a twist on a classic look. Red was the centre colour with lips bathed in a crimson to match the pieces. However this was then incorporated into the eyes, making a striking brush-like stroke which one model described as 'flames'. This was accompanied by bright red eyebrows, which follows a season of bleached eyebrows. The red palette was intensified by the pale base colour used both on the face and body. On a personal note, I am always excited to see pale skin emphasised in the fashion world. Red is such a great colour and is a notorious lip colour for those of a paler complexion and dark hair(think Dita Von Teese, Camilla Belle, Eva Green).
The accessorises for the collection were the most symbolic of Gruau's illustrations. The fluid movement of the hats/hair pieces were elegant and delicate in neutral colours against the vivid red's or calmer ivories, pastels and greys.
It is no wonder that there have been so many comparisons between Mad Men and the recent catwalk shows. It is easy to see from the styling to the classic waist fit that this is back to the glamorous post-war era, where volume, seduction, etiquette and feminine were the words on everyone's lips.