Dior’s July couture show was so stunningly original with its mix of decades, dense embroidery and historical details, that it was impossible to imagine another round of Marie Antoinette in outer space from designer Raf Simons.
So anyone who had witnessed that fashion moment could only pick over the entrails of embroidery at the ready-to-wear, and marvel at the studio skills that turned fantasy into reality.
“I had so much reaction to the couture, I wanted it to reach not just couture clients,” said Simons backstage, wearing a sweater from his menswear collaboration with American artist Sterling Ruby.
Even as ready-to-wear light, the show was striking, as models in egg-shaped hoop skirts paraded through one of four shiny circles, my own inhabited by Carla Bruni, Marion Cotillard, Dakota Fanning, Li Bingbing and Natalie Dormer from Game of Thrones.
In one way it was fascinating to see how the couture had morphed from clothes with a perfume of history into just a bright, sleeveless redingote with a single line of embroidery at the diaphragm. The richness of colour, from bordeaux to marigold, suggested the gilded glamour of Dior, especially with the contrast of sporty white shorts.
There was a lot of white. And milkmaid dresses. Frilled at the neck and with cuffed sleeves, they looked like they might be a safer sell as nightdresses.
Raf Simons has got the hang of Dior, positioning it for a young, modern, international woman who wants her clothes to party, to travel – and maybe even to work — as hard as she does. Those categories were served by black lacy dresses, tailored pantsuits with geometric cuts on the jacket and slightly flared short coats, all shown with booties.
I picked out a bomber jacket with a subtly frilled collar and pink flowers that looked like 18th-century bedroom curtains.
For turning couture fantasy into luxury shop-floor reality, the show could not be faulted.
But I still missed that surge of imagination that a few months ago had taken the haute couture into another, magical place.