Archive for the ‘Designers’ Category

Seven Days of Positive – Day 106

In Designers, Red, Trends on January 13, 2015 at 11:35 pm

00240h_640x960Apologies for the break in service. I have been both unwell and cray cray busy, not a great combination, but I’m still alive.

It’s likely to be patchy for a few days as I’m going to spend some time with my darling mum who really isn’t very well and needs some company. Wifi doesn’t feature there.

Apart from cooking her up a storming chicken soup with matzo balls, I plan to spend my time there lying on the bed next to her watching crap TV, reading magazines. Just chatting and napping together.

I’m also going to get out the old photographs, because I know how much pleasure it gives her to look at them with one of the family. I will encourage her to tell me stories about her 1920s childhood and living in London during the Blitz.

If I had been able to post yesterday, it would have been this: John Galliano’s return to the catwalk. His first show for four years.

I know some people will never forgive him what he said in Paris that fateful night. I have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism myself and have been known to leave dinner parties where ‘Jewish jokes’ were told. Not funny.

But although what he said was vile, he has shown great remorse for it. He was not of sound mind when he said those things. It was wrong but I believe he has paid his dues and hard.

I think it’s time to let him back in. To allow one of the greatest creative minds in fashion history to wallow in obscurity would be such a waste.

So now we have seen his first collection for Martin Margiela, which I though was the weirdest pairing when I first heard about it – but it is the couture line and I loved it.


It’s not accessible fashion. A lot of it will look weird in terms of what we will ‘actually wear’. But with my eye trained from so very many years attending fashion shows I could see a lot in it which will influence fashion going forward.

In the not too distant future we will be wearing head to toe red.


And if you can’t cope with the more ‘directional’ outfits, just look at this simple double-breasted suit. Perfection.


If I were going to the Oscars I would be on the phone to my stylist right now begging her to get me this frock to wear. Imagine how those ribbons would flutter as you walked along the red carpet?



The ghastly decade

In Designers, Pop stars, Punk rock, Rock 'n' roll on February 27, 2014 at 4:03 pm


In the 1990s Tom Ford performed at least two miracles. There was his public miracle of transforming the fortunes of an Italian luxury brand which had sunk into tacky naffness through a series of family feuds and bad licensing agreements and making Gucci once more a label associated with the highest jet set glamour and allure.

He also wrought a personal miracle on my head by making me think, with all his visual references to slinky Halston and necklines slashed open to the waist (the look we have recently been reminded of by American Hustle…), that the 1970s had been a decade of great fabulousness.


It wasn’t. The 1970s was the ghastly decade. It was absolutely hideous.

This has been brought back to me recently by the spate of repellent sexual abuse cases from that era which are currently being aired in the UK.

The foul J. Savile is the most notorious (I shudder even to type the name), but in the wake of those revelations hordes more women have felt able to come forward and report crimes that were visited on them around the same time by other celebrities who felt entitled, at the very least, to cop a good feel.

It seems to some an odd coincidence that so many well-known men could suddenly be revealed to be ruthless sexual predators. Not to me. In the 1970s that kind of revolting male behaviour was considered not just normal – but admirable. It’s not just the individuals who are on trial, it’s the whole hideous decade.


The most recent nauseating thing to emerge is that, in 1975, the National Council for Civil Liberties – a most excellent human rights advocacy organisation founded in the 1930s and operating now as Liberty – granted official affiliate status to a vile coterie of creeps called the Paedophile Information Exchange.

They claimed to be campaigning for the ‘rights’ of paedophiles and in the heat of the 1970s moment, when everybody’s rights to be recognised equal were up for grabs – women, homosexuals, people of colour (to use the US term) – they hopped aboard in the heady melee.

This revelation has been used this week by the British gutter press to smear by association the Labour MP and Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, Harriet Harman, who was working at the NCCL at the time.

Of course Ms Harman had nothing to do with giving that toxic group credence (much too busy working on equal pay for women), but the fact that such an organisation ever did, is another example of just how warped ideas about sexual ‘freedom’ had become in the 1970s.

The hangover of the sweetly naïve free love ideals of the 1960s, combined with the freedom from inconvenient unwanted pregnancy – without the need for any male responsibility for it – made possible by the contraceptive pill, created a ‘sexual revolution’ which at the time seemed like a marvellous step forward from the repression which had gripped since the Victorian era.

What it actually turned into was sexual open season for men. And all women under forty were prey.

I was a busty teenager in the 1970s and I remember it with horror. Just to walk along the street was to be ogled and catcalled. A visit to the local garage to collect the car with your mum, meant being confronted by walls of bare breasted women.

TV shows aired at peak family viewing times featured men aggressively pursuing women as a hilarious norm. Even the lauded Monty Python made me squirm with discomfort at the way women were depicted. The theme music from Benny Hill still makes me feel nauseous.


The celebrated sexual antics of the great rock bands of the time were another symptom of this epidemic of sexual exploitation under a false banner of freedom and I now understand that this was one of the reasons I fell upon punk rock with such a sense of relief in 1976.

Punk rock was completely asexual. Male and female punks dressed the same – thank you Vivienne Westwood for making bondage trousers that fitted me as well as for my boy pals. Men punk rock stars weren’t sexual warriors – Johnny Rotten? Joe Strummer? no way – and the women weren’t sex objects.

Sex Pistols

OK, the mesmerising, Debbie Harry was the object of many teenage boys’ fantasies, but I always felt she played up her looks on her own terms.

When I went backstage after gigs by the Boomtown Rats, the Jam, the Buzzocks etc, to get quotes for my fanzine, Punkture, none of the bands treated me as a groupie. We met on equal terms, eye to eye, united in our joy at the music which defined our generation – and separated us from the ghastly old pervy hippies.

punks, kings road 1980

It was part of the beginning of the next stage in sexual politics. As feminists like Harriet Harman began to create legislation which formally protected women’s rights, the wild dog phase of 1970s sexuality died down and soon began to look as outdated and ugly as the flares, chocolate brown leather jackets and centre-parted long hair and face pubes often sported by its perpetrators.

So while Tom Ford made us all believe for a while there that the 1970s was all glamour and silk jersey – and Amercian Hustle is starting it up again – let’s not forget what it was really like in the dark ages.


Styling stylee

In Accessories, Designers, Trends on February 17, 2014 at 10:21 am



I’m so happy. I can’t quite believe it, but a miracle has happened in fashion – or Styling, as I prefer to think of it these days.

The F word has been rather diverted by overpriced luxury status dressing and look-at-me-please-no-I-mean-it-I-was-a-middle-child-LOOK-AT-ME-PLEASE lampshade hat ‘street style’ weirdos, who are just desperate to appear on a blog, any blog (repeat mantra above).

Styling is about how we dress day to day. Not what we wear to put out the bins or lie on the sofa watching the BAFTAs (oh, wasn’t Cate Blanchett just heaven?), but when we are going out and about doing our thing, presenting our best image to the world.

The trends for Styling work a little different to the shouty TREND REPORT fashion trends which come barking at us during each round of fashion shows – and we are already into the next lot of those (Northern Hemisphere winter 2014/15).

Styling trends move more slowly. They’re not about the now now now, they’re more the now – which will also work then. Looks, details and garments which will look right for at least a year, longer if you style them forward with subtle new tweaks. It can be something as small as tying your scarf differently.


Anyhoo, the miracle I mentioned at the top there is this: the most on-trend (Fashion and Styling wise) shoes you could be wearing right now are a pair of trainers. Yes!

Not those Sarkozy lift shoes ones with the high heel hidden inside (which I have really come to loathe, much as I worship Isabel Marant who invented them), but proper spongy, walk forever old-school trainers. The most comfortable shoes ever designed, which don’t give you Birkenstock moisture-hoovering cork-sole parmesan-rind fissured heels.

The only proviso about your trainers is that whether you choose New Balance (my personal favourite for decades) suede and nylon, Nike power mesh or Adidas’s re-released old school Stan Smith tennis shoes, they must have a certain élan. An interesting combination of wow colours. Or one popping bright.


Adidas Stan Smiths


They categorically should not match your outfit, but stand out as a style statement which declares: these trainers are a Look. Not a last minute desperation choice running for the bus shoe. To emphasise this point they do need to be box fresh, in fact you will need to go out and buy a new pair. Or two.


This is not a weekend downtime look. Feature trainers are great with tailored pants, a cashmere sweater and a tailored man-style coat. The marvellous Celine-designer Phoebe Philo (see main pic, in Nikes, she also wears Stans and is famous for her New Balance fetish) is the patron saint of this look. It’s a very modern, practical way to dress and perfect for work in all but the most formal offices.

It’s Styling at its very best.


Can you imagine the joy of wearing trainers to work all day – not just for the commute? It makes me want to take an office job again so I can revel in it.

(Actually I would love an office job again anyway. After ten years of going solo, I’m really missing collaboration stimulation, so if anyone wants to offer me one, consider my hand raised. Just putting the word out, like.)

The trainer joy doesn’t stop at tailored pants either. They also look great with the other key piece of the new season, the midi skirt – but more of that and the other key Styling trends for the new season next time.

Peter Pilotto for Target

In Designers, Shopping on January 15, 2014 at 11:23 am

Look-7.jpg target

Great excitement on opening my emails today – Peter Pilotto has done a range for Target. Woo hoo!

I’ve been obsessed with these clothes since I first saw their exquisite (and much imitated since…) digital prints in London Fashion Week reports five years ago – and I say ‘their’ because despite the singular name on the label, the clothes are designed by two men, the eponymous Mr Pilotto and Christopher De Vos.

Their biography gloriously encapsulates the global nature of modern high fashion: Pilotto is half-Austrian, half-Italian and De Vos is half-Belgian, half-Peruvian. The designers met whilst studying at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the year 2000. The label is based in London’s groovy East End.


From my first glimpse of them Peter Pilotto clothes joined the rank of the elite ranges I sneak into Liberty and Dover Street Market to stroke and sigh over. (Lanvin is top of that list…). These pics are from his spring/summer 2012, which was a particular favourite.

I treat them like museum artefacts to be appreciated, admired and adored, but which I could never buy. The dresses are around £1000, skirts £500.

So I’m thrilled to see that they’ve done a collection for Target, which will go on sale on February 9th. If the quality of my Philip Lim for Target sweatshirt is a benchmark, these will be worth having. The Philip Lim for Target dress at the top of the post will sell for US$69.99. Sweet.

Look-14.jpg Target $49.99Look-171.jpg TargetLook-3.jpg TargetLook-9.jpg target

Here are some of my favourite items from the Target collection and  you can click on this link for the full look book, as it appeared on Fashionista.

Some of the shapes look tricky to wear the way they’re styled here, but I can see great potential in the simpler pieces (how could you go wrong with a pencil skirt in one of those prints?) and I simply adore the tote bags.

40770-A-020-640x426Of course, if you live outside the US getting hold of the gear will be more of a challenge. Target doesn’t even exist in the UK and the Aussie stores didn’t get the Philip Lim range – so it will be a matter of begging US-based pals to shop for you, or accepting, as I did last time, that you’ll have to pay a little over the odds on eBay.

Or you could plan a little Stateside shopping vacation ha ha ha, although I’d rather pay more and not have to endure the mob scenes these designer ranges create when they are dropped into chain stores. Ugly.

And just to show why you should care, take a look at the last Peter Pilotto show at London Fashion Week last year.

Tom Ford haunts my dreams

In Designers on June 9, 2013 at 10:10 pm


It won’t be news to anyone who ever read my newspaper reports from the European fashion shows, to hear I’m absolutely mad about Tom Ford. I love, admire, respect and generally adore him. He’s one of my all-time heroes.

Going to his Gucci – and then Yves Saint Laurent – fashion shows in Milan and Paris was always a highlight of the bi-annual fashion show season for me. Every tiny detail was always perfect and there was a consistency to them. Always the same venue, the same invitations, the same cocktails and even the same flowers.

The shows varied, of course, although I generally loved them and then the great treat at the end, when he would come out, immaculate, gorgeous, the white shirt always open one button too many. I don’t normally have impure thoughts about gay men – out of respect for their preferences – but Tom gives the impression he wants to be fancied, so I’m willing to go along with it.

Then a couple of days later, I’d go to the showroom to look at the collection up close and be blown away by the quality of the materials and the exquisite details. I remember a navy cashmere coat of the most impeccable cut that had pockets lined with kid leather. The feeling of putting your hand in was delectable. It was one of those few moments in my life when I’ve wished I was stupidly rich, so I could have a coat with kid leather pocket linings.


Anyway, last night I couldn’t sleep (it’s mid-summer in the UK and it starts to get light again at 4am…) so I decided to watch some telly. To my great joy I was just in time to watch this brilliant documentary about Tom Ford, which I didn’t even know about.

It’s great. He’s so candid, so intelligent and – as I always thought he would be – so funny. It also has footage of his first women’s wear show under his own name after leaving Gucci, which is thrilling. He has so many of my favourite women modelling: Beyoncé, Julianne Moore and the wonderful Lauren Hutton, to name a few.

One word of warning: the sound and vision are not in synch on this Youtube version for some reason, so I hope that won’t put you off too much.

One thing I really loved in this docco was hearing him talk about A Single Man, which is one of my all-time favourite films. He’s completely honest about how he took liberties with Christopher Ishwerwood’s novella and the Colin Firth character is really him, recovering from the shock of leaving Gucci. The two dogs in it are his dogs.

Some people dismissed the film as looking like a two hour Gucci ad. Why is that a problem exactly? It’s one of the most beautiful films ever, the costumes and the interiors are so perfect. Do you remember the scene in the bank? Everything grey and this one little girl in a bright blue dress. And the hustler standing against the bright pink LA pollution sun set. Ravishing. But I also find it profoundly moving. And funny.

Here’s a clip of one of my favourite scenes from it.

Oh, I can’t resist it. Here’s the bit where Julianne Moore is chatting to Colin Firth on the phone and doing her 60s eye make make up.

And if, like me, you can always take a little bit more of Tom, here’s a link to a great interview with him. It’s pretty much what he says in the documentary, but interesting to see it written down, as you can consider it more.

Sound and vision

In Designers, Fashion magazines, Men on February 1, 2012 at 10:15 am

Sorry about the technical glitch. I put a post up and then took it down again.

I’m editing my new novel at the moment, a process best described as re-eating your own vomit. I constantly tell myself how lucky I am to make a living writing books – it’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was six-years old – but the editing part of it is hard. I have to practically nail myself to my seat to get it done. The temptation to go out and buy paperclips, re-sort my receipts, or do the ironing can be overwhelming. Oh look, the light switches need polishing.

As Flaubert said, sometimes I ‘spend a whole morning putting a comma in – and a whole afternoon taking it out again…’ It’s always fantastically satisfying when it’s done and you know the book is exponentially improved by it, but still… eurgggh.

So this one’s not so much about the words as the pictures.

Here are some videos I’ve enjoyed recently. (And don’t miss darling David at the top there…)

I’m not rich enough to buy cheap sunglasses

In Accessories, Designers, Friends, Sunglasses on September 9, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Over the past couple of years I’ve had a series of what felt like killer sunglass finds, in the form of really cool frames at ridic knock down prices.

Access to such style steals was one of the consolations of moving from beautiful Australia (sob sob), back to the UK, where there is such a plethora of great cheap fashion chains stores.

The first was a pair of oversized very black-lensed Jackie O-style numbers that people always asked me about. They were £2 in Primark. I grabbed the last pair (before running screaming from that horrrrrrible shop).

Then I found another really good shape, a kind of pumped-up cats eye from Dorothy Perkins for the greater investment of £6.

I’d love to show you how great they were but I can’t because both pairs have long since been assigned to the bin. They fell to bits. An arm fell off, a lens fell out, that kind of thing.

This year I headed back to the high street stores and found a pair similar to the lost oversized cats eyes, scaling up to a massive £8 outlay. The flare on the lenses was so terrible in bright sunlight they were dangerous to drive in. I threw them in my daughter’s dressing up box.

I had the same problem with a pair of pretendy vintage, actually made in China, Mad Men-style true cats eyes I bought on holiday in Corsica, for a rip off £25. They’re a great shape – for wearing indoors, on dull days.

A pair from Top Shop were a good big television size, but so heavy on my nose they were actually painful. They went to a charity shop. I think they were £12.

My next manoeuvre was to hit T K Maxx, the hugely successful chain which sells off terrifying amounts of random unwanted stock. They always have a large choice of low-rank designer sunnies pretty cheap. That’s because none of them are quite great.

But at that moment I was desperate for some serious sun block-out shades, so I dealt £22 for a pair by Moschino, despite the fact they have the designer name on the arm, which makes me shudder. And a little diamante which, in retrospect, makes me feel quite sick.

They got me home in strong low sunlight, but I very quickly came to hate them. I knew they were a compromise style I would never have bought at full retail. And they felt flimsy and naff on my face. I’ve stowed them in the car glove box in case of future driving emergencies.

Still determined to have a new pair of sunnies, my next move was a designer consignment boutique. I was tempted by a pair of massive D &G in a Union Jack print, but resisted when I realised they looked like they had cost £2 from Primark.

After trying on every pair in the shop, I finally dealt for a pair of discreet very dark tortoiseshell Calvin Kleins, once again compromising on the dreaded logo, for £26.

They have very good lenses. I hate them.

At this point I stopped and took stock. Over two years I had spent nearly £100 on sunglasses and still had nothing decent to wear. Shortly after that sunk in, I caught up, separately, with my two best gal pals and both of them had amazing shades on.

Really glossy black frames, in great, dateless shapes, fabulously dark lenses. Proper UV screening glass. They were both from Cutler and Gross, so we’re talking about £279.

That’s when the truth hit me. I’m too poor to buy cheap sunglasses. I need to invest in one really amazing pair.

So when I got an email telling me that my friend Tom Herrington (pictured below, wearing one of his own designs) had his new range of frames Rock Optika – available as specs or sunnies – in store, I waddled off there as fast as my fat little legs would carry me.

And I bought these fabulous sunglasses – the style is called Key Largo -but with much darker lenses, which I was able to specify. You can’t do that in Dorothy Perkins. They weren’t quite as expensive as Cutler and Gross, but very nearly. They were worth every penny.

They’re handmade in the Jura region of France, from super duper finest organic grade Italian acetate. The lenses are the highest quality and they sit lightly on the nose and ears, while feeling completely secure on the head. And the logo is discreetly hidden right at the tip of the arm, so it’s hidden in your hair. Here they are in the tortoiseshell (on Katherine).

For further endorsement of the excellence of the range, check out the post on RockOptika on the highly respected ‘eye wear’ website The Spectacle Showcase. And here is a link to the brand’s own site.

I’m absolutely mad about them and whenever I put them on I feel like a film star and because they were so expensive, every time I take them off I carefully put them back in their neat protective case.

I will never buy cheap sunglasses again.

NEWS FLASH: So many of you are asking on comments where you can buy RockOptika… Tom tells me he has had interest already (before this…) from a Melbourne retailer and they’re going to meet up at the big eyewear exhibition in Paris later this month. So fingers crossed. I’ll get him to keep me posted on stockists after that and will report back.



Men in skirts

In Designers, Men on May 13, 2011 at 10:00 pm



There’s a man in the small coastal town where I live who likes to wear mini skirts. He’s not a crossdresser in the Little Britain ‘I’m a lady!’ manner, he’s not a trannie and he’s not a drag queen. He just likes to wear skirts.

He’s got great legs.

When he’s not working his tight jersey minis, his favoured attire is dancer-style leggings, with a singlet and a short jacket. He usually wears a straw hat, quite often with ivy and the like twined around the crown. On his feet it’s ballet shoes or flip flops. He’s got long dark blond hair. And a beard.

One item of clothing he doesn’t care for is the underpant and as, to quote my husband, ‘God was quite generous to him’, you can imagine the display in a pair of white stretchy nylon leggings. The full deli counter. Even in the pale pink mini I saw him in the other day you could clearly make out the contours of his man dangles.

He’s one of several eccentric dressers in this eccentric town. I saw a new one today, to add to my mental collection. He looked like an Impressionist painter from central castings, in white suit-style trousers, full-sleeved shirt, cravat and waistcoat. Splendid beard and moustache, wild woolly hair. No shoes. Just walking around. Doing his groceries. Five bananas please.

There’s another one who wears very short leather lederhosen which display his butt cheeks and if he sees you notice, he turns to ‘display’. He’s a certified pervo and no one’s seen him for a while.

Skirt man isn’t a pervo. Maybe a little bit of an exhibitionist, but I think it’s more about expressing himself. He spends a lot of time walking in the woodland on the edge of the town and is clearly a bit of a Hello Birds, Hello Sky kind of a chap.

What I find surprising is not so much what he wears, as how people react to it.

I was waiting for someone (my mother, who was in with Ronnie, the hairdresser) when he strolled along the main pedestrian thoroughfare in that pink skirt the other day, so I was at my leisure to watch his progress (my phone didn’t work inside the salon).

The reactions followed him down the street like a Mexican Wave, as the people sitting in the pavement cafes looked surprised, amazed, amused, shocked and disgusted.

I find this pretty amazing, because there are so few things left which shock people, but a harmless little hippie dude who likes to be comfortable and show his tanned legs is regarded as a freak.

It will change someday, surely? It’s been so long coming it’s ridiculous and the arguments in favour – women can wear any man’s clothing item/kilts/Ghandi/David Beckham in a sarong/Boy George – are so well rehearsed I can’t even be bothered to go over them again.

Just Google ‘men in skirts’ and up come pages of articles, going back years, about how it is finally going to happen, it really is going to be fine for men to wear manskirts, if they want to.

But still it hasn’t happened and I don’t get why not. Manwoman models were the big story last fashion show season, so it was deemed fabulous for men to model clothes designed for women – but it’s still not OK for men to wear a particular shape of clothing because it’s traditionally considered a girl garment in our culture. Nuts.

A couple of years ago, chainstore H&M even released one as part of their mens’ collection (see main pic). And there were masses of the things on the Milan catwalks in the last round of menswear designer shows. So will it finally happen soon?

Marc Jacobs (above and left) is certainly putting his stylish heft behind the notion and I think he looks great. So does this guy, below, captured by The Sartorialist.

What do you think of men in skirts?

Rule: Men can be muttony too

In Designers, Men on March 22, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Why shouldn’t Calvin Klein have a gorgeous boyfriend nearly fifty years younger than him?

Were the legendary reinventor of gentlemen’s undergarments still adopting the heterosexual lifestyle he has enjoyed at various times in his life (he’s married two women, although not at the same time), no one would bat an eye at him stepping out with a gorgeous young lady model.

Especially as the fascinating perve that is, which does exactly what it says, estimates Klein’s fortune as around US$700 million, putting him well up in the Normal Rules Don’t Apply category of wealth.

See also: Trump, Donald (US$2.4 billion), hair. Ecclestone, Bernie (US$4 billion), relative height of (former) partner. Berlusconi, Silvio (US$11 billion), general behaviour.

But while money makes anything possible, including having a date younger than your jeans size, nature has its own rules and one of them is that if you stand next to someone of the same sex, but much younger and more beautiful, in a similar outfit, you’re not going to come off too well.

Take this from someone who once went shopping with Kate Moss and tried on the same trousers in a small communal changing room. (True story.)

It’s terribly unfair, because Calvin Klein is in terrific shape for a man of 68. It’s just unfortunate in this instance that his current partner is a 21 year old underwear model with a physique in the 0.000001 upper percentile.

Were Nick Gruber, a Nicola, her physical beauty would serve only to enhance her partner’s prestige. As they are both chaps, it doesn’t come out well for Calvin. And the very uncharacteristic style mistake he is making here, is wearing not only a similar outfit, but an identical hairstyle as his younger squeeze.

Viewed side by side, the tight t shirt stretched so attractively across Nick’s pert chest, serves only to display the downward trajectory of parts of Calvin’s.

Likewise the buzz cut that sets off the youthful openness of Gruber’s face, draws attention to the slightly strained upholstery of Mr Klein’s.

Life’s a bitch, isn’t it?

But while this is all very unfair for Calvin there is some good to be found in it. It does even things out a bit for women in the mutton stakes.

For while there is at last now greater equality with regard to older women dating younger men, ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ remains one of the cruellest fashion judgements that can be made against us.

It’s hard to define exactly what makes something ‘too young’ for a particular age group – although too short, too tight, too wacky, too bright, too shiny, or just too fiercely on trend, all figure.

Yet more than any other style crime, breaking this hard-to-define rule seems to open the female transgressor up to mean vilification, from her own sex, on a level with ‘Celebrity beach cellulite! New pics!’.

It appears to call forth a collective fury, as though the muttoneer’s lack of clothing judgement somehow brings womankind into disrepute. She looks stupid and somehow we all feel vulnerable.

So rather than sneer at Mr Klein for his ram dressed as lamb fashion faux pas – and it’s been pretty ferocious in parts of the US media – we should thank him.

By making it so clear that the age appropriate mutton dress code applies just as strongly to men, it lessens the shame of it for women.

John Galliano

In Designers, Fashion shows on March 4, 2011 at 6:00 pm

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 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?

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Maggie Alderson

author, journalist, fashionist, motherist

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