The collections in Europe have made it exceptionally difficult to focus on the clothes. Not because there’s lackluster design by any means—Paris and Milan have definitely delivered the goods—but because some of Fashion’s most influential houses are in a state of limbo. The drama is distracting. With Raf Simons’ last collection for Jil Sander shown a few weeks back in Milan, and Stefano Pilati’s last showing for Yves Saint Laurent presented at the close of Paris fashion week, it’s hard to focus on the here and now with so much uncertainty in the not-too-distant future.
Maybe that’s why designers like Raf Simons and John Galliano are so talented. They both manage to suspend time for a moment, and bring all our attention to the possibilities and restrictions of dress. Bill Gaytten’s latest collection for Dior was above all else a graceful bunch of directionless clothes. He has the difficult and temporary task of retraining fashion’s eye to do without Galliano’s bravado, and his shows are received with a hangover’s gaze. His collection for fall 2012 was almost as neutral as his color palette. With cement, putty, black, and brown he composed a 56-piece show of simple, wearable clothes.
Because the lifespan of Gaytten’s position at the top of one of the last living couture houses is coming to a swift and uncertain end, you could tell that he has a lot of difficulty, or reluctance, developing a narrative to sell us. Galliano had stability and the uncanny ability to captivate our imaginations, granting us the permission to dream, and dream big. With Gaytten’s collections you always get the feeling that he’s walking a tightrope, and his shows always fall on the safe side, which was territory Galliano made sure to steer clear of.
All that aside Gaytten’s collection had tons of rack appeal. Delicate and approachable outerwear and A-line dresses were impeccably constructed and easily digestible, which is more a testament to the Dior’s talented atelier than Gaytten’s knack for interesting design. I liked his focus on pleats, diaphanous fabrics, and the traditional Dior oversized bow, but after being held within a dream state for so long there’s bound to be some of resistance to unavoidable realities.