Vintage News | The Genius of John Galliano

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Photos by Baker & Evans/anothermag.com


John Galliano is a genius. There, I’ve said it. I not only say it, but I put my money where my mouth is, and am in the midst of amassing a Galliano collection my teenage fanboy self could only have dreamed of. That’s one of the things I love about clothes: the memories they evoke of times past. It’s not necessarily clothes you even wore yourself: my Galliano collection, a behemoth that takes over a whole rail and several flat, coffin-like cardboard boxes in my not-big-enough house, is all about the clothes I desperately wished I could own when I was a fanatic, fashion-obsessed 13-year-old wearing a duvet as a skirt and pretending he was Kate Moss fleeing the wolves in Princess Lucretia.

Today is John Galliano’s sophomore ready-to-wear catwalk collection for the revitalised house of Maison Margiela. I’ve already bought my first piece: a PVC trench-coat (which I will wear) whose lining you can yank out and transform into a slip dress (which I won’t wear). In Galliano’s words, “the anonymity of a lining begins to take centre stage.” The magic of Galliano’s work is there again, the idea of a voyage of discovery through a single piece of clothing, a story told through the details of cut and construction. A narrative embedded in cloth. There’s something magical and evocative about that, and despite having a few years on my 13-year-old self (like, 20) I still feel that rush and flush of excitement when handling Galliano – new, old, all. In celebration of Galliano’s latest creative exertion, here are a few choice pieces from my archive, and the scenes within their seams.

“Cadillac” bag, John Galliano for Christian Dior, Spring/Summer 2001 (Shown above on left)
For S/S01, Galliano ripped Dior apart. He dedicated his show to “Trailer Trash”, opening with a soundtrack of Jerry Springer audience chants and closing with a Hole-worthy parade of ravaged beauty-queens in sashes anointing them with titles named after Dior fragrances. It was a mark of his absolute confidence that Galliano could propose something so audacious for Dior – in fact, two days later, he even went to far as to base his own-label collection on this Dior show, opening with same outfits and then playing Britney Spears’ “Oops I Did it Again” before remixing it into his own label. "I have been inspired by Picasso and paintings like Guernica that happened because of a historical event,” he told Suzy Menkes. “So I am going to reconstruct my Dior show of 48 hours ago through Picasso's eyes." Yikes. His Dior Cadillac handbag was an audacious and provocative reworking of a womens’ accessory, complete with polished patent-leather “chassis” and silver door-handly, as if wrenched off a wrecked car. Even the shoulder-strap was attached to the bag via a mini steering-wheel embossed with “CD”. Those are the details I’m talking about, that make Galliano’s world quite so magical. There’s God in every one of them.

“Denim” finish shearling boots, John Galliano for Christian Dior, Autumn/Winter 2000 (Shown above on right)
John Galliano’s clothes are frequently far more complex than they originally appear. Take these boots: they ooh like tie-dyed denim, but are in fact shearling treated with a denim trompe l’oeil. Elsewhere in this collection, Galliano first utilised newsprint on ready-to-wear clothes, in emulation of a pair of trousers from his controversial homeless-inspired Spring/Summer 2000 haute couture collection, printed with reviews of his past shows from the pages of the International Herald Tribune. There are subtler details at play here, like the heel twisted to expose the leather innards – so simple, but with a mind-boggling technical complexity at play. The corset-lacing and strapping harked back to Galliano’s Spring/Summer show of the same year, inspired by horse-racing, hence the tack-shop feel to the glistening “CD” bit-buckle that rapidly became a new house trademark.

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