I’ve seen many amazing fashion shows and several iconic ones (Alexander McQueen’s dance marathon springs to mind) in my time, but the one I desperately wish I’d been at was John Galliano’s show for spring 1995, at Pin Up studio in Paris.
It was the one where Linda Evangelista was sitting on the 1950s American car in that yellow dress. The one that sprang forth from its nipped waist in a foam of tulle and feathers that looked almost alive.
I can’t find any pictures of it online, sadly, because that was way back before fashion shows were instantly available to view on line. Come to think of it, it was before all of us were even on line.
But what I have found is this documentary presented by the excellent Tim Blanks. This is Part 2, which features that legendary show – and the previous one at Sao Schlumberger’s house. It’s terrible quality, but so worth watching.
In the current context, it brought a tear to my eye. The incredible atmosphere, Madonna front row, all the supers at their ripe best walking for John for free and, of course…. the clothes. The amazing clothes, the hats, the hair, the make up, the shoes. The Galliano magic.
For anyone wondering what I mean by ‘the current context’: John Galliano has been sacked from the most prestigious job in fashion, as chief designer of Dior.
He is in utter disgrace after two separate allegations of drunken, racist abuse to members of the public outside a Paris bar, were followed by the Sun newspaper releasing a mobile phone videosold to them (for a huge sum by all accounts…) taken by an observer of yet another such ugly outburst at the same venue.
I’m not going to put the link on here – it’s easy to find on Google. It’s a deeply upsetting thing to watch, with Galliano saying ‘I love Hitler’ and telling the people he was fighting with that they’d all be dead, gassed, their families and forebears too. Horrible stuff from anybody in any context.
So that’s the ghastly context that has had me revisiting Galliano’s finest hours. I desperately wish I’d seen that 1995 show – and, of course, his degree show from St Martins. The art college collection that was so extraordinary, that the owner of London boutique Browns and fashion icon, Joan Burstein, bought all of it and put it in her South Molton Street windows.
He became a fashion legend, literally, over night from that, although it took many long hard years living in his studio (without a fridge, I remember), to reach his current height of wealth, fame and prestige. The incredibly lofty heights he has just fallen from so hard.
Oh, John Galliano. London’s pride. What a tawdry end to such a scintillating career. Such a sordid sordid scene on that nasty bit of video, I felt almost unclean after watching it. Yet, was it almost predictable?
I don’t want to comment here on the whys and ifs of the events – the best coverage of all that is on Vogue.co.uk under the post called ‘Karl’s take’ (doesn’t seem to be possible to put the link in here).
They have interviewed all the right people, including Joan Burstein (who answered with exactly the elegance and discretion I would expect from that wonderful lady). The site also has Galliano’s own official statement about the affair, which churned me up all over again. How terrible to know you have been sole the architect of your own destruction.
And I’ve talked about it so much to my fashion friends this week, my ear is hot from phone calls on the subject and I’m bored with my own opinions on did he really mean it or was he just being provocative and did they provoke him and what will happen next and will his own label close and is it the total end of him as a designer and what is he ON…? Only time will tell.
Right now I’m more interested in pondering whether the personality of someone with Galliano’s level of original creativity simply isn’t compatible with the big corporate machine high fashion has become.
Look what it did to Yves Saint Laurent. And more recently, to Alexander McQueen. Admittedly he came from a difficult childhood and his suicide followed that of his muse Isabella Blow, the death of a favourite aunt and right after he lost his beloved mum.
But it seems more than a coincidence that in the space of a year the two most creative designers in the fashion firmament have done themselves in. One killing his body, the other his career. Perhaps it is now It’s that the point where high fashion, high art and high finance meet is just not a comfortable spot.
It makes me wonder this:
Could Van Gogh have worked for Microsoft? Could Picasso have flourished at Pixar?