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John Galliano gave Shanghai a heaping dose of Parisian chic on Saturday night, unveiling Christian Dior’s Nouvelle Vague-inspired cruise collection in a massive tent along the city’s celebrated Bund. The show coincided with the reopening of Dior’s revamped boutique in luxury shopping mall Plaza 66 and the inauguration of a retrospective exhibition. Galliano’s decision to incorporate haute couture creations, such as dramatic organza and tulle gowns, into the show further underscores just how much the house is banking on big spenders in China.
Although Galliano has referenced Asian themes in several of his past collections, the designer said he thought it was important for Dior to make a characteristically French statement and “capture the exuberance, the energy” of French New Wave cinema and its heroines, Jean Seberg, Romy Schneider, Jeanne Moreau and Françoise Hardy. “I didn’t want to come here and present a Chinese-inspired collection to my Chinese friends,” said Galliano, clad in a checked shirt, vest, rolled jeans and a black hat with feather trim. “I’m the ambassador of the house of Dior, and I wanted to come here with a French-inspired collection and to show the savoir faire of France.” Karlie Kloss opened the show in a dress of butter-soft pink plissé leather with scalloped details as a miniature orchestra harmonized to a rousing soundtrack of Diana Ross & the Supremes’ “Love Child.” Galliano progressed to flirty frocks in striped knits and delicately faded rose prints. He also revisited the iconic Bar jacket — one version came in Prince of Wales plaid with cap sleeves and a large bow. “You can imagine her — that type of character — on the scooter with a boyfriend with a helmet racing through Paris,” he said. A series of embroidered silk gowns in mint, candy pink, apricot and lilac closed the proceedings with a glamorous flourish. Galliano said he sought to create a “Left Bank, gamine, lovers-on-the-Pont Neuf” vibe, which he believes will resonate with women in both France and China. “I think our Parisian and Shanghai sisters — they both share the same love and passion, which is for tradition and innovation,” Galliano said. “They’re both so thirsty for new technology but still have a great respect for the tradition and I think that’s where I draw the parallels between the two women.