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Fashion 89 : Dior Displays a Flare for Spring, Summer

The glamour crowd was out in force for the Christian Dior spring-summer couture collection on the second day of showings here.

In the front row, Princess Caroline of Monaco in a coffee-colored Dior wool flannel suit was flanked by Bernadette Chirac, wife of the mayor of Paris, and France’s former first lady, Claude Pompidou. Others included Americans Ann Bass, Nan Kempner, Deeda Blair, French actress Sylvie Vartan and Mrs. Bernard Arnault, wife of the owner of Dior’s parent company, Financiere Agache.

The Dior collection, designed by Marc Bohan since 1960, is the most successful of all the couture houses, with more than 2,000 outfits sold to private clients each year.

If clothes this expensive can be called commercial, then what Bohan delivered Monday was elegantly commercial. The emphasis for day is on suits, where this season’s new pyramid shape jacket can update last season’s narrow slim skirt, a silhouette he continued. There’s more newness in the sexy, shaped chiffon blouses the designer hid under those suit jackets, some of which were shaped short and close to the body, with a flounced peplum bouncing around the hips.

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He did include a few longer skirts, which often turned out to be mid-calf culottes in sheer, layered chiffons or georgettes. Among the prettiest of this group was the ivory satin crepe pyramid jacket on a cross-over ivory chiffon shirt with those pleated pants that look like an easy skirt. In the same color palette, a shorter edge-to-edge blazer was done in that heavy satin crepe over a beaded vest that turned out to be a strapless top, with the soft, man-tailored trousers that are a Bohan specialty.

Some of the long chiffon dresses looked almost like lingerie and with the French talking about “cocooning” as much as the Americans, just the thing for curling up with a bowl of beluga caviar and a flute of Moet et Chandon.

The Short of It

As Saks Fifth Avenue fashion director Ellin Salzman said after the show, “Mr. Bohan has a strong opinion about lengths. Short. The result? One of the younger and kickier Dior collections of recent years.”

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Earlier in the day, Salzman had attended both the Jean Louis Scherrer and Nina Ricci collections, which she summed up as “both very pretty and that’s very important for us in America.”

Pleats and chiffon are all over Paris and, at Scherrer, the beauties were the pleated chiffon blouses tucked under pantsuits in crisp menswear fabrics; collars were masses of draped pleating overflowing into soft bows while pleated cuffs framed wrists.

Again, there was a “tea dress” or lingerie feeling about many of the late day dresses, often re-embroidered with sprigs of delicate spring flowers in Boticelli pastels: peach, blush, robin’s-egg blue, aquamarine and coral.

The Applause-Getter

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From the applause, the show’s star was the cream satin crepe blazer draped through the midriff and covering up a strapless dress. The top was a crisscross patchwork of ivory pleated crepe; the floor length skirt, a column of narrow pleats.

Longtime Scherrer fans Countess Hubert d’Ornano and Pat Kennedy Lawford were among the first backstage to congratulate the designer.

At Nina Ricci, designer Gerard Pipart’s chiffons banded in satin, his floor-length bias pleated strapless dresses and floral printed chiffons had the audience murmuring “Carole Lombard,” “Lana Turner,” “Rita Hayworth.” In short, yesterday’s glamour translated for today.

Today’s showings include Emanuel Ungaro and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel.

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