07 March 2011

PFW A/W '11 Report: John Galliano

You would surely think that after the events of the past week, the staff at John Galliano would be making it their business to nurture as much good will as they possibly could. There was a huge turnout of international press at the show. But the team seemed wholly unprepared for it.
 
Many of the fashion press, stuck in a holding pen on the stairs leading to the venue, are the very ones who in the past week have been trying to understand and explain the incomprehensible behavior of the designer. They did it based on knowing the man and relationships that go back decades. The public is slower to understand and anyone venturing compassion in print is mostly met with a barrage of outraged reader reaction on the internet.
 
So it’s hard to understand the thinking of the staffers at Dior who created a barricade at the entrance of the Galliano show, developed selective blindness and picked off people in the crowd like they were doing the door at a nightclub twenty years ago and not a fashion show slotted into one of the busiest afternoon’s schedules on the Paris calendar.
 
I’d have thought that when you are in deepest do-do, best practice is to stop digging.
 
But draconian door policy notwithstanding, John Galliano’s collection was sincerely beautiful, reminiscent of John in the early 90’s when he first arrived in Paris, hungry and struggling. His romantic vision seduced the city back then and was the beginning of a stellar rise to stardom.
 
The bias cut evening wear and Fifties-inspired tailoring is no longer cutting edge news, but it was exquisitely crafted, stripped of gimmicks and bravado, it was classic John. It reminded me of the breathtaking collection he debuted with in Paris back in 1992 when he made 20 outfits in black crepe he had bought at the market because that was all he could afford, and showed the capsule collection in the empty Paris house of his early champion, Sao Schlumberger.
 
Floor-length bias cut evening gowns in printed chiffon or beaded tulle were delicately feminine. A draped evening coat in eau de nil silk and deep fur cuffs looked like a Galliano collector’s piece. And curvy tweed tailored jackets and slim skirts were perfectly in sync with the season’s feeling for feminine grace.
 
The creator may have been absent, but the spirit was very much there. If he can come back from the hell he has put himself in, this collection has shown he is a designer who still has much to offer.

- Paula Reed in Paris


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