Beautiful dreamers and glitzy gals

Dominique Sirop, Valentino and Christian Dior were some of the designers that have unveiled their couture collection to rave reviews. Sirop’s collection included paneled evening dresses and khaki day suits, while Valentino’s line included feather bustiers and skintight dresses. Christian Dior’s collection reinforced the accolades that designer John Galliano garnered since his first couture show in 1996. His collection included dresses with laced corsets and waist training cinchers.

CHRISTIAN DIOR: “To make women look beautiful and make people dream.” In those words, John Galliano summed up his wish for his second couture collection for Christian Dior. A noble goal for a couturier, and in the collection he showed on Tuesday, Galliano realized it magnificently. True, this was not the heart-stopping event with which Galliano stole last season. Less sweeping in scope, it focused on only a few ideas, and some found it repetitive. But no one could say it wasn’t disarmingly beautiful. Despite what some of his competition would like to believe, Galliano’s brilliance does not lie in showmanship. He may have wooed his audience with the Bagatelle Gardens — where he had a greenhouse constructed, as well as beds crafted of moss on which his models could lounge — and a story line centered on Mata Hari, but he won them with spectacular clothes.

Modern? Modernity is relative. There were references to Poiret and the Belle Epoque, and in his program notes Galliano wrote that, “the Dior woman uses every artifice imaginable,” including a vest waist trainer and laced corsets. His only “day” silhouette, an endless vision with a seriously molded jacket and floor-sweeping skirt, left little room for a meal or a deep breath. But it looked amazing. The jackets came in tweeds, silver lame, crocodile and embroidered pale blue silk. They were shown as suits or with long fringed scarf skirts and usually laden with dazzling jewels.

For evening, Galliano continues to expand his range. The sheath is his favorite shape, in everything from lavishly embroidered tulle to metallic tinsel. Theatrical? Without question. At one point, Shalom even vamped around the gardens nearly naked, a glorious Venus clad only in a flesh-toned embroidered skirt and G-string.

But it is relevant as well. And not only for the Oscar set, represented at the show by Demi Moore and best friends Rita Wilson and Kate Capshaw. Just ask Alan Schwartz at ABS, who’s made a small killing by knocking off the dress Nicole Kidman wore to this year’s Academy Awards, or just about any accessories manufacturer, who will no doubt be jubilant to see Galliano’s lavish use of jewels, hats and racy lace stockings.

Galliano certainly deserves much of the credit — or some would say blame — for shaking up the staid world of haute couture. But he must also be applauded for celebrating those traditional couture values, beauty and dreams.

VALENTINO: Out with the old Valentino Ladies. In with the new ferocious, volatile Valettes. Sequined, furred and jeweled to an inch of her life — or her boyfriend’s wallet — Valentino’s new girl was clearly designed to make a media splash. “I’m not against clients,” Giancarlo Giammetti said last week, “but fashion focused only on a lady going to an opening at the Met is quite demode.” And just to drive his partner’s point home, Valentino pulled out all the stops — Mad Max hair, stiletto ankle boots, skintight dresses, feather bustiers and even a pair of embroidered leather leggings. Val also put fur on everything, from a black minidress with mink trim to a baby blue coat with an enormous leopard-printed fox collar. The stellar front-row audience — everyone from Marie-Chantal of Greece to Jackie de Ravenel — looked rather stunned. But glitz is the name of the game, at least at Valentino, and they’d better get used to it.

DOMINIQUE SIROP: La resistance lives! And it’s operating in — of all places — Pigalle. That’s where Dominique Sirop presented a smooth, chic and perfectly charming collection Tuesday morning that was contrary to all the other megaproductions going on in Paris. There were even some socialites, one — mon Dieu — with a Chihuahua on her lap. It was all presided over by Le Grand Hubert, Sirop’s old boss, who gave his blessing by kissing the designer on both cheeks at the end of the show.

Sirop’s atelier, which is also his apartment, is still in the developmental stages, and the quality doesn’t match up to that of the grandest houses yet. But the ideas certainly do. From the super-sharp khaki day suits to paneled evening dresses to a stunningly simple crepe sheath, this was a collection that screamed “Buy me.” And they will.

Let the counterrevolution begin.