There were notable absences from the John Galliano fashion show at Paris Fashion Week. Galliano himself for one, in disgrace and exiled to rehab after last week's video evidence of his antisemitic rants.
Another novel feature was the absence of a catwalk for the show, which, not surprisingly in the light of events, had been scaled back. Instead, models weaved among rooms of fashion editors and buyers, striking poses where they found a gap.
That the event went ahead at all is testament to the complexity of the fallout from the scandal. That the Dior show would take place, which it did on Friday, was never in doubt: the house has a long history before Galliano, and the event was a chance for LVMH to publicly wrench ownership back from its sacked British designer.
But many had assumed that LVMH, which underwrites the secondary John Galliano company, would simply pull the plug on this peripheral label.
However, many of the Galliano products (perfumes and sunglasses, as well as clothes) are made in partnership with other firms, licensees who in effect buy the rights to the brand name. An agreement with an Italian manufacturer to produce John Galliano scarves and hats was signed as recently as October.
Thus the future of the name rests in part in these hands, and LVMH is not in a position to simply bring down the shutters on the whole Galliano affair. Much more controversially, neither is the entirety of the fashion world.
The presentation demonstrated a surprising degree of sympathy for the designer, with attendance higher than most had predicted. There was an element of rubbernecking at the fashion world's great calamity, but there was also support at a senior level. Sidney Toledano, the chief executive of Dior, mingled with editors at the entrance, and stood with senior Galliano staff backstage during the show.
Friday's Dior show was precisely calibrated to divert attention away from the designer, with the end of show bow being taken by white-coated seamstresses, making a none too subtle point about Dior having a large and sympathetic workforce who should not all be punished for one bad apple. By contrast, at the Galliano show, a house spokesman was quick to state that the collection was "all John. This is John's work, A to Z".
The collection had been in the final stages of production when the crisis broke, he said.
Joan Burstein, the 84-year-old founder of Browns boutique in London, who played a major role in launching Galliano's career when she bought his graduate collection, was present. "Mrs B", as she is known to the fashion fraternity, believed "forgiveness will come. I hope so."
Selfridges last week released a statement confirming what many retailers have said privately, that they are "reconsidering" the place of the Galliano brand in their store in the light of the scandal. But a spokesman for the house said that appointments with buyers were going ahead, and the clothes on show – a distinctively Galliano cocktail of tailored jackets, dramatic fur collars and curve-hugging pencil skirts – would be put into production.
Pierre Denis, the managing director of John Galliano, said afterwards that its future "is not certain now, because it depends on John, and whether he comes back. But for now, it's business as usual."
The proof of the pudding will be in the order books. Whether customers retain a taste for the Galliano name is yet to be seen.