PARIS Dior remained tight-lipped on Friday about the search to replace John Galliano despite the growing clamor of critics who dismissed the French fashion label's second show since it fired its chief designer as a programmatic repeat of past styles.
Dior has now been without a chief designer for half a year since it fired Galliano after he was caught on a video that was widely circulated on the Internet making anti-Semitic remarks in a Paris bar.
"Patience," Dior Chief Executive and Chairman Sidney Toledano told Reuters after the show. "You will understand when the announcement is made. The timing is right. Those who know -- don't talk and those who talk, do not know."
The rumor mill has been in overdrive during Paris Fashion Week with endless speculation about who could replace Galliano after media reports indicated negotiations with early favorite Marc Jacobs were not going well.
Other names in the frame include Alexander Wang, but fashion critics say the designer's urban and masculine style might not be right for couture.
Women's Wear Daily published a story this week quoting Toledano saying the announcement was "weeks away."
If Dior's couture collection -- its first without Galliano -- was panned by critics in July, its spring/summer collection was received with little applause from critics and buyers even though it remained faithful to the label's traditional codes.
"It was not very creative," said Alexandra Golovanoff who hosts a fashion TV show on Paris Premiere channel. "It was like waiting music, you know the kind of music you hear on the phone while you are waiting for your call to be transferred."
Dior's new collection, designed by Bill Gaytten, Galliano's former right-hand man, included pastel colored flowing organza dresses, tight at the waist and open in the back.
The presentation also featured variations of Christian Dior's famous bustier tops and close-fitting Bar jacket but in ochre, soft beige and some bright orange colors.
"This (collection) is based on earlier Dior collections," Gaytten told Reuters after the show.
It includes the "Dior codes, soft necklines, no shoulder pads, the Bar jacket but with a wider sleeve, slightly higher waist and a little bit less volume."
The show was not attended by LVMH Chief Executive and founder Bernard Arnault, who usually sits in the front row and it also lacked its usual spray of celebrities.
One of the only high-profile guests included actor Orlando Bloom who was there to support his wife, model Miranda Kerr, who was taking part on the catwalk.
"I am not usually at fashion shows," he told Reuters.
LANVIN STILL ALL THE RAGE
In contrast to Dior, Lanvin's new collection by Alber Elbaz also presented on Friday drew loud applause and backing from celebrities such as actresses Julianne Moore and Kristin Scott Thomas.
Surprisingly for a spring/summer collection, Lanvin remained anchored in dark colors for the most part, with many flowing, sleeveless little black dresses.
Elbaz seemed to pay homage to Yves Saint Laurent's famous tuxedo, a classic style which is making a strong comeback on the catwalk. Models strutted on extra-high heels in black suits and dresses with black shiny lapels.
The collection also included a few striking short black dresses with a bustier richly adorned with stitched-on jewelry.
"The lines are very pure, I just want to wear it all," actress Julianne Moore told Reuters.
Lanvin, France's oldest fashion label, also joined the ranks of luxury brands which have not yet been affected by the global economic slowdown.
"We have a very good year. We have not seen any sign of buyers cutting down their orders," Lanvin Chief Executive Thierry Andretta told Reuters.
"Our sales this year will rise again in double-digit terms. But still I am preoccupied by the state of the world economy."
Other luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Dior have said this month business continued to be brisk despite the deepening gloom in the markets.
(Additional reporting by Pascale Denis; Editing by Paul Casciato and Sophie Hares)