Flemish paintings inspire Dior couture
Mon Jan 26, 4:00 PM EST
Jenny Barchfield, Associated Press Writer

PARIS – Duchess lace, delicate blue-and-white porcelain and other Flemish fineries recovered their long-lost status as the ultimate luxury goods as Christian Dior sent out a majestic haute couture collection Monday inspired by Vermeer paintings.

Designer John Galliano said he was struck by the pose of subjects in paintings by the 17th century Dutch master and his contemporaries — and by their palette of luminous blues, yellows and creamy whites.

"Instinctively, I wanted to do beautiful paintings again," the British designer told The Associated Press.

Ever the magpie, Galliano plucked pieces from the bourgeois Flemish wardrobe — the oversize lace collars, the droopy puff sleeves, the fitted bodices — and adapted them to the labels' hallmark skirt suit, which was created by Christian Dior in the 1940s.

The notes proclaimed the spring-summer collection "More Dior than Dior," and perhaps it was just that. Waspwaisted jackets with big sleeves and even bigger hips were paired with ultra-voluminous skirts that used bonework on the hems to retain their four-leaf clover shape.

The looks were so wide, in fact, that the models' skirts sometimes collided as they passed one another on the catwalk.

Ruffles abounded, draped over jacket necklines, bouncing off the seat and dripping down hemlines. The skirt of one slate blue suit was entirely covered in looped ruffles. Indigo flowers on the inside of another skirt — in ecru — made the garment look like a Flemish porcelain bowl turned upside-down.

Most of the looks were paired with extravagant hats that looked almost light enough to float away. One white headpiece resembled a fluffy wisp of cloud.

Burlesque star Dita Von Teese said she there was "something about the suit looks I really love."

"It was beautiful ... all the very cinched waists and big crinolines and all the beading," said Von Teese, a frequent guest at Paris couture shows.

Other A-list guests at Monday's show included TV star Mischa Barton, rapper Kanye West, Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard — the current face of the "Lady Dior" bag line — and former French first lady Bernadette Chirac.

France's current first lady, singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, provided the music.

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