Driving Dior

Christian Dior is using the importance of cruise and pre-spring to unveil an expansion of its product offerings aimed at broadening its customer base.

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Come late October, stores will begin receiving a full blast of Galliano's creative prowess. While couture remains his pinnacle expression for the house, the designer said he approaches his pre-collection no differently.

In fact, Galliano's famous "inspiration" trips to far-flung locales are not the preserve of couture. Influences from his swing last March through Argentina and Peru turn up in the cruise collection in smocking details, striped gaucho pants and loose chiffon tunics inspired by local carpet designs.

"We covered a lot of ground. We would take a plane almost every day," Galliano said, recalling a stop at one village where he encountered "children covered in pink dust" and a woman who proudly showed off her cactus collection. "How can you not be inspired by such things?" he asked. "It's so rich, and it's all here for the house to be energized and be inspired by."

Galliano channeled those ideas into many new areas, vastly expanding Dior's offering of tops, which represent an important access price point for a luxury brand. The designer said his litmus test for versatile separates was "having models come in and wear things with their own jeans."

Toledano noted that prices of some items have been made "more competitive"; some jackets start at around 900 euros, or $1,089 at current exchange.

Galliano said he added more cocktail and evening components to each of his four fashion themes, citing a growing demand for occasion clothes, "which is very positive, don't you think?"

While his assistants flung various styles in front of a visitor, the designer excitedly described cocktail numbers variously as "very Kate" (as in Kate Moss), "very Rosalind Russell in 'Auntie Mame'" and another, twinkling with silver beading, as "so Sharon Stone in 'Casino.'"

Galliano's high-energy variety show extends to all accessories categories, too, including costume earrings tinkling with a tiny teapot and teacups ("a little touch of Sofia Coppola," the designer noted); a new "Christal" watch model inspired partly by rocker Patti Smith — "Only me and David Bowie have one so far," he quipped — and dramatic, "Alien"-esque sunglasses with concave lenses.
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