When playing word association the phrase “Dior Couture” is likely to conjure responses like outlandish or over the top. The word restrain rarely has a place in the Galliano vocabulary but every so often he provides a collection that is both masterful and understated -at least by his traditionally maximalist standards.

Today’s Dior Couture presentation kicked off the pomp and circumstance of Paris Couture week, like any good opening act it served for foreshadow events to come. If Galliano’s vision is anything to go by this will be a week that looks back to the history of couture itself. Inspired by Irving Penn’s classic photography the pristine collection of ladies who lunch suits, debutante cocktail dresses and socialite gowns was steeped the history of twentieth century high society. Unlike previous Dior couture offerings which have leaned towards the otherworldy – this presentation was firmly grounded in reality. A rarified and exclusive reality but certainly more accessible than Galliano’s recent forays through space and time.

For all the nostalgia there were of course touches of modernism. The lacquered and corseted belts that hinted at Theirry Mugler’s amplified proportions. The origami fabric folds that added interest to the most classic of blouses and jackets and the space age Dior trademark maquillage ala Pat McGrath. Its these guilded edges that prevent the collection from falling into the trap of pastiche.

Dior Couture F/W 08

Still for a Dior show this season is relatively tame – the words beautiful and boring at times can be synonymous. I wouldn’t have minded more of a spectacle but for what its worth the ensembles presented were grand. The final piece worn by the impossibly austere Georgina Stojilkovic was in and of itself quite the wonder.