They said/We said: We weigh in on yesterday’s Dior Couture flop. Is Bill Gaytten going straight to the guillotine?

Photography by Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/Getty Images
Photography by Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/Getty Images

Yesterday marked the start of Fall 2011’s Paris Couture Week. Though couture is often luxe and intricate, one house stands apart from the rest in boldness and charisma: Christian Dior. But as the cloud of former Dior designer John Galliano’s ongoing trial still looms over the industry, critics suspected the collection would be different due to his absence of direction. To our surprise, “different” turned to out mean shocking, and frankly disappointing.

The collection was what can only be described as an overzealous attempt to rework what is known as Dior. It seems to be of widespread opinion that from the patterns to the cuts, the ensembles simply did not belong in a couture collection. Overall, there was a vast lack of direction and vision, with colours and materials clashing all over the runway.

At the end of the show, creative director Bill Gaytten took a bow, accompanied by his first studio assistant, Susanna Venegas. He seemed elated to be at the head of the runway, but that’s probably because he didn’t see the giant elephant in the room with the “It Wasn’t Galliano” sign around its neck. Gaytten is already set to take over Galliano’s self-titled label, and though there were suspicions that he’d be taking over for the estranged designer at Dior, those can probably be put to rest. Is Gaytten going straight to the guillotine?


Women’s Wear Daily: “To Gaytten and Venegas’ credit, they did not play safe, opting for visual overstatement on multiple levels: shape, color, pattern. Unfortunately, these swung way too cartoonish, especially in the tailored pieces, all mixed graphics and cumbersome lines, while in a series of flagrant caftans the models did their part, flailing endless arms like Pat Cleveland wannabes.” [WWD]

Lucinda Chambers, fashion director of British Vogue: “Every house needs a point of view and it has to come from the designer—sadly that’s what was lacking in today’s show.” [Vogue UK]

Suzy Menkes, the International Herald Tribune: “John Galliano brought to the house a finesse and exquisite lightness that, with his departure, has blown away like confetti in the wind… This carnival of a show looked like a bunch of party-goers had done a witty, wacky take on Dior extravaganzas.” [NY Times]

Cathy Horyn, the New York Times: “Things must be very strange these days at the House of Dior, judging by the haute couture show we saw this afternoon at the Musée Rodin. All sorts of weird vibes, along with a lack of design leadership… I like Mr. Gaytten. He’s a sweetheart, but he is not a designer.” [NY Times]


Bernadette Morra, editor-in-chief: “I don’t know whether this is a fair comparison or not. But the criticism of Gaytten’s first couture show for Dior reminds me of a WWD story that appeared in January 1997 after Alexander McQueen’s first couture collection for Givenchy. The theme was a send-up of the Golden Fleece and the collection was widely panned. WWD kindly printed a remark McQueen had made shortly after his appointment to the house. ‘People aren’t going to get wonderful things overnight.”