Paris SS 2011 Couture: Christian Dior

Decadence, regality, a collection of such sheer chicness that the show transported the audience back to a bygone era- when Couture really was Haute and RenĂ© Gruau reigned as Dior's most iconic in-house illustrator. John Galliano, who already created a mini collection especially for the Gruau exhibition in Somerset House uses Spring Summer to pay complete homage. Anyone familiar with Gruau will know of his clean sweeping lines and his obsession with femininity and flowers and Galliano has married the two, along with the theme of paint and illustration to display Gruau's life as an artist. Oversized bows, full circle skirts teamed with tight structured jackets and fur which looks so blossomlike it's a surprise that it isn't made of flowers came together to create a new New Look. The colour palette resembles a painter's palette with primary colours of pillarbox reds and daffodil yellow. Light blushes of pink used to make a rose shaped dress, and leaf green pieces continue the flower theme. 

Billowing fabric was belted or bowed at the waist, creating an easy feminine silhouette which was technically difficult to achieve. The most dramatic of all was the chiaroscuro- the light and dark washes of Gruau's illustrations such as this one were mimicked with layer upon layer of tulle. Pink gowns were embroidered down one side with darker pink. Headdresses depicted a more extravagant, exuberant feel - a breath of fresh air for these recessionista times.

Shoes were peep-toed and double strapped at the ankle. Long gloves cut to the elbows carried on the lady-like glamour. The hair was typically 40s- Gruau's era and knotted off the face but for a single wavy curl. Brows were full and heavy set with the occasional flash of magenta eyebrow. The face truly was a canvas- eyes were watercolours of turquoise and purple with feline flicked black eyeliner, lips were pillarbox red, mimicking the iconic illustrations Gruau drew.