John Galliano has always spoken about couture being 'the engine' of the house of Christian Dior - and his past two ready-to-wear collections have made that point almost as obscenely clear as his spaghetti-strapped lingerie dresses. Maybe it's a justification for the acres of l'argent lavished on the spectacle of haute couture, John Galliano's riposte to the money men who ask him to justify his Louise Quatorze extravagance with a bottom line. This season, he quite naturally tallied his figures and decided to tally-ho, jumping back in the saddle of the equestrienne collection he showed for January's couture. The looped-up side-saddle skirts, tightly-waisted jackets cut in mens' tweeds and thigh-high stirrup-strapped boots all had their root in that collection, and the second outing wasn't so bad either. In a change from the trussed-up look of his couture, this time there was a slant of salaciousness, stripping back that riding-habit and exposing the saucy underpinnings beneath. Of course, this also has its antecedents in Dior's haute couture collection of last winter, and the ready-to-wear that grew out of it - in fact, Galliano has been creating these lingerie dresses for most of his career, which explains why they have reached such a polished crescendo of souffle lightness. Coloured in the pastel hues of a rococo watercolour (eau de nil, bleu de roi, rose pompadour) and cleverly slit about the body, they looked ravishing. Granted, there were a few too many, and the show definitely dismounted when Galliano tried to mesh the two themes in a single garment (as in a pair of unfortunate ruffled leather dresses). But when those chiffon and georgette slips came under fluttering suede frock-coats in the dappled shades of chestnuts mares (and beneath Stephen Jones' feathered flat-caps and oversized John Bull toppers) this show hit a high only beat when Galliano himself emerged, pumped and oiled like Lady Chatterley's Mellors, to take a well-deserved bow.
In a change from the trussed-up look of his couture, this time there was a slant of salaciousness.