PARIS Christian Dior presented a toned-down version of elegance for autumn/winter on Friday, as the atelier's signature silhouette of full skirts and cinched waists took on a ballet-like flair.
Neutral tones of champagne and dusty pink, along with warmer aubergine and rich charcoal, dominated a collection which was high on femininity and was classic Dior.
A dove grey silk dress featured copious panels of lightweight fabric in the skirt that caught the air as the model walked the catwalk set up in the garden of the Rodin Museum.
"It's still very Christian Dior but cleaned up and still very elegant," designer Bill Gaytten told reporters backstage. Gaytten has been at the creative helm of the ultra-luxe fashion house since John Galliano was fired a year ago after making anti-Semitic slurs in public.
Dior, which is part of the luxury conglomerate LVMH, has yet to announce a permanent replacement, but executives are keeping mum.
"Things aren't done in a hurry," said Dior Chairman and Chief Executive Sidney Toledano backstage, declining to comment on when a replacement might be named and adding that sales were up 22 percent in 2011 and had surpassed a billion euros.
"The brand is selling well. Sales are very good."
Gaytten described his ready-to-wear collection as "less graphic and more tonal" that was easy to wear. Cashmere, brushed mohair and leather in jackets imparted depth in pairings with full silk skirts, always cut below the knee and full with fabric.
Houndstooth prints were deconstructed for a less severe, more feminine look, and embroidery found its way onto silk dresses, skirts and jackets.
Antique rose silk organza flowed from a floor-length evening gown whose bodice was an oversize satin bow tied like an obi sash.
Necklines often incorporated dramatic twists of fabric across the shoulders with tight mock turtlenecks underneath, some in heavily encrusted sequined fabric.
Dior's former head of design for menswear, Hedi Slimane, was just named as the new creative director for Yves Saint Laurent, owned by luxury and retail group PPR.
(Additional reporting by Pascale Denis)