Monday, November 8, 2010

John Galliano

An emotional week, sometimes as overwrought as couture itself, ended this afternoon on a surprisingly calm and graceful note as members of the Dior ateliers, all in their white lab coats, took to the catwalk for the final bow of the fall 2011 Dior show.

Ever since Tuesday, when Dior dismissed designer John Galliano for anti-Semitic remarks that were caught on video, there has been nonstop speculation about how the house would handle the show, or even if there would be a show at all. This has been a public-relations nightmare for Dior, as well as an emotional and stressful ordeal for employees of the house and its chief executive, Sidney Toledano. Typically, a Dior show would be an occasion for a mob scene at the front gates, celebrities filling front-row seats, and the arrival of Bernard Arnault, the chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, with his wife, Hélène.
Christian Dior fall 2011.Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times Christian Dior fall 2011.

But there was nothing typical about this day in fashion. The scene outside the entrance to the Musée Rodin was beyond a mob scene; I would say more than 300 people were there, along with extra French police officers. More than a few guests remarked, perhaps with a touch of black humor, that it felt that they were arriving for a funeral. The mood was rather somber and tense, and yet, as people knew, they were coming to a fashion show -- in a tent behind the museum.

Mr. Arnault did not attend. And there were few celebrities, certainly no prominent names. I saw a few friends of the house -- Ralph Toledano, the former Chloé chief, who is a relative of Mr. Toledano's -- and also a number of Dior staff, like Catherine Rivière, who runs the haute couture salon. It was obvious that the aim was to create a low-key, professional atmosphere -- and to keep the legacy of the house uppermost in mind.

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