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Dior plays hard against soft

Sales at Christian Dior Couture rose by more than 40 percent in 2002.
Sales at Christian Dior Couture rose by more than 40 percent in 2002.

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PARIS, France (Reuters) -- British designer John Galliano played hard against soft, edgy versus romantic in his ready-to-wear show for Christian Dior, where bondage-inspired rubber clashed with delicate floral chiffon.

Models stalked the mirrored catwalk in peach satin jackets with bold organza ruffles worn over skin-tight black rubber trousers, for a look that blended the costume drama of "Dangerous Liaisons" with the hard-core glamour of the S&M scene.

Guests gathered in a marquee opposite the Eiffel Tower on Thursday for the display on the first day of the Paris autumn-winter fashion shows, which was also due to feature Belgian designer Olivier Theyskens's debut collection for Rochas.

Galliano elaborated on the Asian theme he unveiled in his haute couture collection in January, with fishtail gowns in black-and-white Japanese block prints and a dragon red bomber jacket emblazoned with gold Chinese lettering.

A buckled brown leather mini-skirt was slung over a gauzy floral-patterned dress, while a khaki rubber skirt quivered under a billowing satin jacket in a lime-and-pink kimono print.

At one point, an animal rights protester jumped on the catwalk with a sign reading "Fur kills," but she was quickly hauled off by security guards as model Jacquetta Wheeler strode past in a black rubber muzzle and chunky lilac fur coat.

Overall, however, the outfits were better suited to summer than winter, with Galliano sending out an off-the-shoulder peach jersey top and white python mini to the soundtrack of U2's "Staring At The Sun."

Not that it will matter to Dior clients, who have snapped up his creations regardless of fears of war and recession. Sales at Christian Dior Couture rose by more than 40 percent in 2002 despite a slowing economy and a drop in international travel.


French designer Christian Lacroix got a head start by showing his latest designs in a small showroom presentation on Wednesday, marking the second consecutive season he has been absent from the catwalk in Paris.

A PETA ( People for Ethical Treatment for Animals) protestor jumped on catwalk.
A PETA ( People for Ethical Treatment for Animals) protestor jumped on catwalk.

Models lounged under a silver disco glitter ball in outfits including a slim coat with geometric patterns and a mini shift encrusted with hundreds of buttons in black, silver and white.

Lacroix mixed and matched his main ready-to-wear collection with his more accessible diffusion lines, Bazaar and Christian Lacroix Jeans, for a rock 'n luxe effect.

A denim peplum jacket with a frayed lace collar was slung over a sumptuous cranberry brocade evening gown with a corset bodice and billowing skirt.

The intimate display was a sign of the cost-cutting sweeping the luxury goods sector. The cost of a full-scale catwalk extravaganza can run up to one million euros ($1.1 million).

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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