What happens when Louis the XIV takes the red pill? You get the fall 1999 haute couture collection from Christian Dior.
Having deep pockets helps when you are planning to occupy the entirety of the Hall of Mirrors to stage a fashion show. I can’t imagine they rent that place out to just anyone, but suffice it to say, LVMH (The parent company that owns Dior) had the clout and cash, and let John Galliano have his fantastical outing amidst the grandeur of French royalty.
The mood in fashion at the time was a strange mélange of minimalism (bucking for salable clothing to pay the bills) and futurism (partying like it was 1999), with Galliano firmly planted in the latter. He wanted to design a collection that pushed the envelope of what haute couture was and what it could be. As the season was also dancing on the cusp of a new millennium, the time was right to show a line that rocked the stayed tradition of custom clothing to its well-dressed core. High technology and virtual reality might not sound like fodder for made-to-measure clothing, but for Galliano, it was the beginning of match made in heaven. And, having just produced a spring haute couture collection that was a nod to Dior’s surrealist past, he wanted nothing more than to look ahead.
As the metal doors of the installed elevator slipped open, war broke out. With the sound of high voltage wires buzzing and the pulsating blast of the beat-heavy Clubbed to Death (from the Matrix soundtrack), dark-eyed models stomped along an undulating catwalk dressed in black leather coats, rubber pants, bias-cut nylon and ultra-glossy textures like high fashion, war-ready soldiers returning to their battalions. Asymmetrical cuts dominated the collection with seams and details swirling around the models’ bodies like Neo dodging bullets.
Drill sergeants barked out marching orders over the sound track, as the collection segued into day-glow evening wear, then revamped/reimagined hunting costumes, then England’s occupation of India in sheer elegance. Galliano had declared war on tradition by turning it on its ear and waking it up from whatever stoic reality it was forced into.
As the show concluded, war-painted amazons pounded across the runway in resplendent neon gowns cut to look like exaggerated pixels. By the time Carmen Cass parachuted in, Galliano’s message was clear, the future is rebellion, and rebellion looks good.
Video of the collection might be slightly NSFW towards the end, but I guess that depends on where you work.
The first entry in the series: