(CBS/AP) PARIS - Despite the absence of its chief designer, the show went on at Dior.
The French fashion house presented its last and final collection by disgraced designer John Galliano, who was fired Tuesday after 14 years with the label over allegations he made anti-Semitic remarks.
Along with Galliano and his signature victory strut, noticeably absent was the group of A-list celebrities, like Janet Jackson, Penelope Cruz, and Dior spokeswoman Charlize Theron, who usually fill the front row.
Sidney Toledano, Dior's chief executive, took to the catwalk ahead of the fall 2011 ready-to-wear show, apologizing for Galliano's "unacceptable and hurtful remarks."
"What happened over the last week has been a terrible and wrenching ordeal for us," he said, referring in part to a video posted on the Internet that shows a drunken Galliano praising Adolf Hitler.
"These statements have deeply shocked and saddened all at Dior who give body and soul to their work, and it's particularly painful they come from someone so admired for his remarkable creative talent," Toledano said.
He said Galliano's comments went against the very grain of the house, founded in the aftermath of World War II to "make (women) happy, to make them dream."
"The values that Mr. Dior taught us are unchanged today," said Toledano.
After Toledano's statement, which had the solemnity of an eulogy, the music began thumping on the icy blue set under a tent in the gardens of the Rodin Museum, and Dior spokesmodel Karlie Kloss took to the runway in a dramatic, floor-length cape and a wide-brimmed hat.
The collection, designed under Galliano's supervision, was a kind of best-of Galliano's work for Dior. There were the boho, 1970s-infused looks that opened the show, snug leather jackets and flowing parkas with fur trim, and then a seemingly interminable parade of sheer bias-cut silk gowns, perennial best-sellers.
At the end of the show, Dior's atelier team - the dozens of seamstresses, tailors and embroiders who brought Galliano's designs to life - took to the catwalk for a final bow. The audience gave them a standing ovation, and the craftspeople, all clad in white lab coats, clapped back.
"You could definitely feel Galliano in those designs. Fashion is built on what comes before it and John is really still here," said Linda Fargo, Bergdorf Goodman senior vice president.
She called the occasion a "sad day. Everyone's is kind of wistful."
"I want to say it's history in the making, but it's more like history in the unmaking," Fargo said, adding that the house had handled the difficult situation with "perfect pitch."
Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova expressed sympathy for Galliano, saying he is "under influence of a disease."
"This is beyond his power. And I know, because I'm Russian, I've met people under the influence of alcohol doing monstrous things before," Vodianova said as she left the show. "It was very sad and I really wish him all the best. And I hope he will get help soon."
Galliano reportedly left France Wednesday to enter a
The fate of the British designer's eponymous fashion line, which is owned by Dior parent company LVMH Moet Hennessy, is still a question mark. Thelabel's spokesman, Alexandre Malgouyres, said the runway show scheduled for Sunday had been scrapped, and the latest collection will be shown in a presentation - a format that which generally offers a lower-key environment than catwalk shows.
Galliano'shas not yet been named, but speculation has been heating up around Riccardo Tisci, a rising Italian star whose dark and detail-oriented work for Givenchy has made him a critical darling. Other names churning in the rumor mill include Belgium's Haider Ackermann and former Dior Homme designer Hedi Slimane.
The future for Galliano looks utterly uncertain.
A Paris court has ordered he stand trial on charges of "public insults based on the origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity" against three people.
The trial could take place between April and June and Galliano could face up to six month in prison and 22,500 euro ($31,000) in fines, if convicted, the Paris prosecutors' office said in a statement earlier this week.
The 50-year-old broke his silence on the scandal Wednesday and apologized "unreservedly" for his behavior, adding, ""Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society."