Grazia Daily is buzzing from news just in that none other than fashion god John Galliano will be taking over from Donatella Versace as the new honorary chairperson for Fashion Fringe, London’s initiative to nurture and sustain cutting edge design talent.
Unlike many judging roles, Fashion Fringe's chairperson has always taken an active interest in entrants during the year of the contest, so JG won't just be posing a figurehead.
As Colin McDowell, Creative Director of Fashion Fringe previously explained to Grazia, not only did Donatella chair the FF judging panel but ‘she takes the finalists to Italy to see her show, she has a lot of involvement but she just doesn’t want to make a big deal of it. It was the same with Tom [Ford –who was chairman before Versace]. Neither of them "do" being a figurehead. They do it because they believe in this, and they do it for free. Donatella pays to fly herself over. And she has come over maybe three times before this event, and when you consider how busy she is…’
Galliano is of course, a fashion legend, revered for both his couture-quality cutting (he is the modern day master of the bias cut), as well as his headline-making catwalk spectaculars. And it seems he’s arrived at Fashion Fringe at just the right time. For 2010, the contest is taking a bit of a change of direction, the latest details reveal ‘as well as continuing to help develop viable creative businesses…. Fashion Fringe at Covent Garden will focus on encouraging the spirit of extreme imagination, adventure and experimental beauty that London is historically known for. Designers will be asked to demonstrate an exciting original approach but also the potential to create and make beautiful sellable clothes.’ Extreme imagination? We can’t wait.
And neither can Galliano, 'I am hoping we find a rebel genius’ says the designer ‘I will look for someone who reminds me of me when I was starting out - someone original, unique, who has their own style and handwriting and isn't afraid to try something new. Fashion sometimes gets scared and plays it too safe - but I want to push boundaries'.
But the man whose own outfits regularly threaten to upstage anything he shows on the catwalk, admits ‘when I started, all I wanted to do was create - I didn't have a clue about business, but it is so important to have good foundations in both. So many talented designers have been lost or swallowed up by corporate machines because they didn't know how to handle the business side. I learned the hard way.'
Bankrupt numerous times before being championed by Anna Wintour, and now sitting pretty at the top of the fashion tree, we can’t imagine a mentor with better experience in the industry. Mr G will take on the role for the next two years, fitting his duties around his already-gruelling yearly schedule – producing 17 collections from ready-to-wear Galliano and Dior, to Haute Couture Dior and Galliano menswear.
And, reading between the lines, it seems that the contest’s new direction may be something of an homage to another extreme imaginist - Alexander McQueen. ‘Thinking about recent events has made me re-examine what the spirit of London fashion really is – and that is bold, exciting fashion that breaks through the barriers and moves fashion’ says McDowell ‘And, of course, nobody does it with such imagination and fabulous originality as John Galliano. This is the searching, radical spirit we are planning to uncover and bring back to London fashion through its young designers.’
And if YOU would like to enter this life-changing contest, the application process for Fashion Fringe at Covent Garden 2010 is now open, until 30th April.
For more information visit www.fashionfringe.co.uk