The massive tulips on the Christian Dior couture runway weren't merely pretty set pieces -- they were a nod to the the 1953 collection that served as the current line's inspiration.
John Galliano, who now spearheads design at the house of Dior, is known for making grand gestures toward the heyday of Dior in his couture collections, and in this case the reference had both literal and symbolic ramifications. The 1953 spring collection included a floral palette of color and wide-neck, dramatic collars. This frock coat -- currently in the archives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute -- is one piece from the collection, and as one can see, the current iteration holds fast to the iconic Dior tailoring in the form of the nipped waist and dramatic color.
Of course, Galliano is most known for taking symbolic liberties, and in this case he chose to take the idea of a tulip -- or a flower, for that matter -- to its most extreme: an explosion of colors, petal-inspired hems, and dresses that seem to blossom from top to bottom like flowers themselves. A good couture collection is like a work of art, and in this case, Galliano has proved himself a master.