Well, Faye is really the right
image for John Galliano! Very cool colors and I think Faye carried the clothes differently
than the model on the runway! The model looks too sultry and I don't think Faye liked
potraying the clothes in that manner! Nonetheless Faye looks superb and clean!
In the cold-eyed climate of today's
commercially-driven fashion, John Galliano is a throwback to a more gallant era. An
incurable romantic and master craftsman, he is one of the few remaining designers who
treat fashion first as art, and only secondarily as business.
Born in Gibraltar in 1960 to a Spanish
mother and English father, Galliano was brought up in lavish Spanish Roman Catholic style,
which clearly influenced his later penchant for the baroque. When he turned six, his
family moved to London where the young Galliano attended Wilsons Grammar School. He
eventually won a spot at St. Martin's School of Art in London, where he graduated in 1984
with a first class honors degree.
So brilliant was Galliano's graduate
collection that both press and buyers raved about him as fashion's new genius. Drawing
inspiration from the French Revolution, he had created an eight-outfit collection that
instantly attracted commercial attention. Galliano's first catwalk show for his own label
the following year, entitled "Afghanistan repudiates Western ideals", confirmed
that he was an eccentric talent on the rise.
Galliano moved to Paris in 1991. He
continued to produce flirty, historically-tinged collections but under growing financial
duress. In 1994, he finally secured a backer and managed a precarious arrangement working
out of lofts and mansions lent by wealthy patrons. Galliano became the most sought-after
designer in Paris, and in 1995, was hired to design for Givenchy.
The news unleashed a flood of articles by
French fashion editors outraged that a Brit had been chosen to design for a house they
considered part of their national heritage. Speculation ran rife as to whether Bernard
Arnault, the chairman of Louis Vuitton Moėt Hennessy, had only hired him to create a
media buzz. Industry-watchers wondered whether Galliano's wild nightlife and artistic
temperament would interfere with his ability to turn out six catwalk collections per year,
for Arnault was footing the bill for Galliano's own line.
Galliano designed two collections for
Givenchy before he was replaced by another controversial Brit, Alexander McQueen. Arnault
had decided to move Galliano over to Christian Dior, the crown jewel of LVMH's fashion
The initial Dior shows were a fantastic
success, even more grandiose and fanciful than anyone had imagined. His mermaid gowns,
chinoiserie shawl dresses and massive Masaļ necklaces under wasp-waisted suits were
copied everywhere. Who knows whether they sold? It didn't seem to matter. The likes of
Madonna, Nicole Kidman and Emmanuelle Beart were photographed wearing his most beautiful
gowns at Cannes and at the Oscars. Galliano had put Dior back in the spotlight.
As a purveyor of glamour, Galliano has no
equal. He has championed the bias cut that Madeleine Vionnet devised in the 1920s and his
slithery cocktail dresses are pure Hollywood. Galliano experiments extensively to achieve
a desired effect. He once invented crinoline dresses held up with hoops made out of
telephone wire which gave the softened structure that he was looking for, and immersed
silk chiffon dresses into gelatin for a wind-blown look.
A fanatical researcher, Galliano's design
process starts in the museum archives. His theatrical collections are filled with
historical and anthropological references, ranging from Masaļ warriors and Hopi Indians
to '30s Berlin cabaret. And almost invariably, his collections are based on a muse.
Princess Lucretia, Louise Brooks and '40s film star Dorothy Dandridge have been
inspirations. As was Blanche Dubois from Tennessee William's "A Streetcar Named
Desire" for his own spring-summer 1988 collection.
But with LVMH's vast financial resources at
his disposal, Galliano's historical reconstructions began to resemble Cecil B. DeMille
productions while the clothes grew increasingly outrageous. In July 1998, his couture
collection for Dior -- Pocohantas and d'Artagnan outfits paraded past a steam locomotive
-- was a disaster of extravagant proportions. The critics panned it as proof that Galliano
could do little more than turn out costumes for theatre, leaving the ladies who lunch with
nothing to wear.
Rumours circulated that Galliano would soon
be out of a job. In response, he toned down the rococco and produced a carefully
pared-down haute couture show at Dior's Avenue Montaigne salon in January '99. With plenty
of tightly tailored jackets, slouchy trousers and Mao caps and military armbands as the
only historical indulgence, critics applauded it as Galliano's return to realism. Until
his next flight of fancy. -- Simone McKenzie (February '99)