Friday, March 4, 2011

Christian Dior autumn/winter 2011 show

Amid tight security and a heavy police presence, the Christian Dior autumn/winter 2011 collection was shown in Paris this afternoon, in the absence of the man who had conceived it; the disgraced British designer, John Galliano, dismissed and facing trial in France in the wake of an anti-Semitic scandal.

In pictures: Christian Dior autumn/winter 2011 collection

The rue de Varenne on the Left Bank was closed-off and steel barriers were erected to control crowds. The 1,200 guests fought their way through hundreds of onlookers to the entrance of the heavily-guarded Musée Rodin, where the show was staged in a white tent.

Christian Dior sacks John Galliano

The editor-in-chief of American Vogue, Anna Wintour, and her daughter Bee, together with numerous high-profile attendees, including the Russian supermodel, Natalia Vodianova, came in through a back entrance to avoid the mêlée.

The president of Christian Dior Couture, Sidney Toledano, gave a moving speech before the show.

Read Sidney Toledano's speech in full

He moved even further to distance the illustrious name of the House of Christian Dior from the repugnant events which have led Galliano to stand trial over a drunken anti-Semitic rant in a Paris bar.

"What has happened over the last week has been a terrible and wrenching ordeal for us all," he said.

"It has been deeply painful to see the Dior name associated with the disgraceful statements attributed to its designer. However brilliant he may be."

"Such statements are intolerable because of our collective duty to never forget the Holocaust and its victims, and because of the respect for human dignity that is owed to each person (sic) and to all its peoples."

Toledano underlined how deeply-felt had been the horrific nature of the Galliano scandal by revealing that the sister of the founder of the house, Mr Christian Dior, had been sent to Buchenwald, one of the Nazi concentration camps.

John Galliano: I completely deny the claims made against me

He said the values laid down by Mr Dior, since he opened his 'maison' in 1947, continued to be carried on by the wonderful and diverse group of people in the Dior ateliers and studios who dedicated all their time and energy to achieving the ultimate in artisanship and femininity.

The mood at the show was sombre and muted, with more than one guest suggesting the atmosphere was "funereal", something heightened by the black ribbons which tied the name tags to each attendees' black chair; the black carpet; and the plaintive strains of Chopin and Debussy which echoed through the tent, pre-show.

Bernard Arnault, the chairman and chief executive of the luxury supergroup, LVMH, and of Christian Dior, was not present. His wife, Hélène Mercier, a concert pianist, was giving a recital in Canada, a PR executive explained, "and this was all planned before anything happened."

Arnault's daughter, Delphine, who works for LVMH, and his son, Antoine, who is head of communications for the conglomerate, were both in the front row, together with Peter Marino, the architect responsible for the design of the worldwide chain of stores for Dior, Louis Vuitton and Céline, among others. He was dressed, 'comme d'habitude', in a Harley Davidson black leather jacket and cap, and biker trousers.

All the updates regarding the John Galliano scandal

"There is pathos here," he said, echoing the sense of tragedy which has accompanied John Galliano's downfall. "It feels weird, in fact I'm weirded out."

Other celebrities, clad head-to-toe in Dior, included Anouchka Delon, the daughter of the French film actor, Alain Delon; Alysson Paradis, sister of Vanessa Paradis, the long-term partner of Johnny Depp; the Chinese actress and pop-singer, Fan Bing Bing; and the celebrated fashion photographer, Patrick Demarchelier.

Demarchelier, who has photographed both Galliano and Galliano for Dior creations for the last two decades said: "He is a gorgeous designer. To finish like this? Phew! "

One of many Dior clients, Natalie Berdugo, who arrived in a Dior red fox jacket and chiffon dress, said: "I am wearing Dior and I'm Jewish."

Another client, the wealthy Italian socialite, Carla Maria Orsi Carbone, who was wearing a Dior floral chiffon dress from the current spring/summer collection, said: "It is so sad to me. I love him."

The show opened with an eerie replay of John Galliano's own catwalk appearances, as the teenage American supermodel, Karlie Kloss - only a toddler when the ex-designer joined Dior in late 1996 - struck a flamboyant "Three Musketeers" pose in a black floor-length-cloak, black hat, boots, and velvet knickerbockers.

The collection, featuring 62 models, revisited many of Galliano's favourite themes, being awash with brocade bloomers under tweed jackets, velvets jackets over little, knee-length, frilly skirts, fox and mink jackets with chiffon slips; and "Little Bo Beep"-style smocks and ribbon-tied bloomers.

The collection ended with a parade of barely-there, lingerie-look peignoir-dresses and evening-gowns in ruffled and pleated see-through chiffon, with the models perched on skyscraper-heeled shoes, furnished with ribbons and bows.

As the "theatre" dimmed, and an expectant audience wondered what would happen next, the lights suddenly swelled to reveal the entire, 30-strong members of the Dior studios and ateliers, all dressed in white coats.

Christian leaders say budget cuts shouldn't hurt the poor

Some evangelical leaders say that while cutting the national debt is a moral issue, it would be immoral to cut programs that help the poor.

Ron Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action, Southern Baptist environmentalist Jonathan Merritt and evangelical activist Shane Claiborne are among signers of what's called "A Call for Intergenerational Justice: A Christian Proposal on the American Debt Crisis."

The document says piling up federal debt is wrong because, "justice demands one generation must not benefit or suffer unfairly at the cost of another."

But it says while spending must be cut, that should "not mean cutting effective programs that empower poor Americans or contribute internationally to economic development or the advancement of health."

Pakistan buries Christian leader

Prime minister attends funeral in Islamabad of government minister killed after calling for changes to blasphemy laws.

Pakistan has buried Shahbaz Bhatti, a prominent Christian government minister who was assassinated after he called for changes to the country's blasphemy laws.

Around 2,000 mourners attended the funeral at an Islamabad church on Friday, including Yusuf Raza Gilani, the prime minister.

Angry crowd had shouted "death for killers" ahead of the burial of Bhatti who was the country's only Christian minister and had challenged a law that stipulates death for insulting Islam.

The two gunmen who shot Bhatti, 42, left leaflets desribing him as a "Christian infidel" and signed "Taliban al-Qaeda Punjab".

"In Islamic sharia, the sentence for blasphemers to the prophet is just death," the pamphlet said.

Gilani said: "I consider this day as a black day. All the minorities have lost a great leader. I assure you, we will try our utmost to bring the culprits to justice."

Pakistan's blasphemy law sanctions the death penalty for insulting Islam or the Prophet Mohammed.

Human rights groups say the law has been used to persecute Christians and other minorities.

Bhatti’s killing is being seen as the latest sign of how violent religious conservatism is becoming more mainstream in Pakistan, a trend which could further destabilise the nuclear-armed US ally.

Second assassination

Bhatti's murder was the second high profile assassination this year of a politician opposing the blasphemy law.

In January, Salman Taseer, a provincial governor, was shot dead by one of his bodyguards.

In a sign of mourning, black flags fluttered above houses in Khushpur, Bhatti's mainly Christian home village, 290 km south of Islamabad. Men, women and children thronged the village cemetery for the burial.

"These terrorists must be hanged publicly to stop them from committing such brutal crimes," Hina Gill, a member of the Christian Minority Alliance, said. Many Muslims were also present at Bhatti’s burial.

"Shahbaz Bhatti has tried hard to promote inter-faith harmony but those who want to destabilise Pakistan have killed him," said Badruddin Chaudhry, a Muslim attending the funeral.

Bhatti was travelling in his official car without a security escort when the gunmen opened fire on him near his house in Islamabad. He died on the spot after sustaining at least eight bullet wounds.

A Rehman Malik, the interior minister, denounced the killing but said Bhatti himself was to blame for his death.

"I think it was his mistake," Rehman Malik said, adding that Bhatti wanted to keep a low profile. "It was his own decision."

Mosque explosion

In a separate incident, a bomb exploded in a mosque in the northwestern Pakistani town of Nowshera, killing at least nine people and wounding over 30, police and hospital officials said.

The blast took place when food was being distributed to the poor after Friday prayers.

"We have received nine dead bodies and 28 injured, there is one child among the dead," Abdul Hameed Afridi, head of the Lady Reading hospital in Peshawar, the main city in the region, told the AFP news agency.

Adil Khan, a Nowshera police official, said: "Many people had left the mosque after prayers. Otherwise losses would have been higher."

Witnesses described scenes of panic, with the mosque's windows and doors blown out by the strength of the explosion and blood sprayed on the building walls.

"I was distributing rice among the devotees when suddenly a huge blast occurred and I remember seeing people running and falling in panic," Suleman Shah, a jeweller, said.

The blast follows a suicide car bombing near Peshawar on Thursday which claimed ten lives.

Pakistan has seen a wave of suicide attacks in the past three years, many in the country's northwest frontier region with Afghanistan, where the Pakistan military is battling Taliban fighters.

Saturday, February 12, 2011