V16

ARTICLE PHILIP UTZ

PHOTOGRAPHY NICK KNIGHT

STYLIST JOHN GALLIANO

CREDITS ARTICLE CONTENTS

INTRODUCING RILO KILEY

ALMODOVAR GETS GOUDE

GALLIANO IN THE HOUSE OF DIOR

EXTRA CREDITS

Clothing Dior Haute Couture  Makeup Val Garland (Untitled using Christian Dior)  Hair Sam McKnight (Sam McKnight Definitive Styling)  Manicurist Marian Newman (Amalgamated Talent)  Models Liberty Ross (Marilyn), Inga (Viva), Rosemary Fergusson (Ford), Jacquetta Wheeler (Viva), Erin O’Connor (Ford), Alek Wek (IMG)  Location Big Sky Studios, London  Scanning Idea Digital Media  Retouching Metro Imaging  

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IN FOOTBALL WE TRUST HBD KAROLINA KURKOVA ANA GASTEYER BEST VIDEOS OF 2012: SOLANGE KNOWLES

GALLIANO IN THE HOUSE OF DIOR

PHOTOGRAPHY NICK KNIGHT
FASHION JOHN GALLIANO
TEXT PHILIP UTZ

#THROWBACK 2002: V16

WHEN GALLIANO WAS NEW TO DIOR, THE WORLD WAS HIS PLAYGROUND. MUCH HAS CHANGED SINCE THEN, BUT THE ATTITUDE OF THE CLOTHING REMAINS—AND WOULDN'T IT BE PERFECT FOR COACHELLA THIS WEEKEND?



Impresario, mix master par excellence, John Galliano might have Christian Dior spinning in his grave with his heady couture concoctions, but without him to stir our wildest fantasies—and the occasional bit of controversy—Fashionland would be a very dull place indeed. Here the designer talks with Philip Utz about fashion terrorism, his encounter with the Queen Mum, and why even in the face of tragedy, the show must go on

One of your first collections in London was titled, Afghanistan Repudiates Western Ideas. Where were you on September 11?
JOHN GALLIANO In the Dior studio, working on the pre-collection. We heard from the couture team who were in New York doing fittings. We immediately switched the TV on and saw this unbelievable footage, like bad Steven Spielberg.

Were the couture fittings called off?
JG I hate to say it, but I believe they carried on. At first, people thought that a small aircraft had crashed into one of the towers by accident. It took a while for the news to creep uptown before the second tower was hit and everyone knew what had really happened. So at the Pierre Hotel, the clients stayed put, and the seamstresses carried on pinning. I did design a collection in 1985 called Afghanistan Repudiates Western Ideas—it was my first static show at Olympia—inspired by an old cartoon in Punch of an Afghani jumping on a British bowler hat and snapping a British umbrella. It was the illustration that fired my imagination. I love the tension that the caricature evoked. I did a bit of research and looked into King Amanullah, who returned from a spell in England impressed by the way that Western people dressed. He tried to impose Savile Row on his subjects, but of course they drove him out of town. I mixed bankers’ pinstripes and Afghani tunics, twisted tailoring and Islamic woven fabrics in beautiful berry colors. It had a Brick Lane vibe to it.

Hélène Arnault said that she would be steering clear of camouflage prints until things settle down.
JG Camouflage prints are an integral part of the fashion vocabulary. The Falklands and the Gulf Wars didn’t stop people from wearing them, so why would people stop now?

How do you think the war will translate in terms of fashion? Are we set for a radical new look?
JG When you’ve experienced something like that, it puts everything into perspective. You just want to enjoy every minute to the max. I was disgusted to see the photographs of people leaping out of windows in the press. I thought, That person was on his way to heaven; you shouldn’t have captured his soul at that moment. But I guess it all comes down to the age we live in, the age of information at all costs. Having said that, I’m a fashion designer, not a politician. I’m here to make people dream, to seduce them into buying beautiful clothes, and to strive to make amazing clothes to the best of my ability. That’s my duty, so I’m not about to get all shrouded up and start wearing black.

Business is still reeling from the economic repercussions. Have you had any drastic budget restrictions at LVMH?
JG We’ve always had budgets, and I’ve always stuck to them. But the budgets are drawn up five years in advance; they’re fixed. However, the houses of Dior and Galliano—and M. Arnault himself—decided that straight after the events it perhaps wasn’t correct to be seen throwing parties. The Design Museum exhibition [for which these Nick Knight photographs were produced] was canceled because it was inappropriate to be seen patting ourselves on the back and rejoicing. When I was in New York for the VH1 Awards last fall though, people struck me as ready to party and really up for living again. Mayor Giuliani said, “Thank God you’ve come to inspire us and make us dream and take us away from this for just one day.”

You canceled the Design Museum show out of a sense of “correctness,” but you were nonetheless seen bouncing up and down on a rubber band at the VH1 awards.
JG It seemed like the quickest and most effective way to raise money for those poor children who had lost their dads who were firemen. I think Anna [Wintour] did a great job: She hauled in the Greats—Giuliani, Hillary [Clinton]—and yeah, she made John Galliano fly through the air. But it was sold, viewed worldwide, and made a ton of money. For once the fashion industry wasn’t a wimp! Everyone was canceling left, right, and center, but Anna put her foot down and said, “No! This has to happen!”
 
How brave of you to pull a Tarzan on a room full of fashion Janes…

JG I’d done a couple of rehearsals, and I’d been in the gym for about a week so I was quite fit. We were discussing the awards over lunch with Anna when I mentioned that I’d always wanted to fly. Before I knew it, I was in New York at the venue, and it was like one of those things that you can’t get out of. “Shit! I’ve gone too far! It’s too late to back out of this one!” By this point they’d already harnessed me. I was a bit jet-lagged, but once I was up there it was really exhilarating and fantastic.   

Plus it’s not the kind of thing that one could ever imagine Tom Ford doing, is it?

JG No. He’s a bigger build.  

Why do you think that London Fashion Week has hit an all-time low?

JG The thing with London Fashion Week is that it’s a bit like a clock. It strikes midnight and then turns into a pumpkin. Designers come and designers go, fashion comes and fashion goes, so there’s always room for a new batch of Cinderellas. It’s like this osmosis thing that keeps on stirring creativity, whether it be in fashion, music, film, or art. That’s what makes London, well, London.  

Did you discuss the state of the British fashion industry with the Queen when you were awarded a CBE last month?

JG Not when she was giving me such a high award for someone so young. It was quite an honor, so I didn’t start bitching. I just said, “Thank you ma’am,” and she said something like, “Keep up the good work.” It was amazing.   

Did you tell her how great she looks?

JG I was too busy minding my p’s and q’s and concentrating on the protocol for any of that. The whole thing was magic, complete with beefeaters tapping their staffs and soldiers so regimented that you almost forgot they were there. Oh!
And the orchestra: Everyone knows they played “Hello Dolly” when I came on.
“So good to have you back where you belong!” I was wearing a morning suit by Brioni sans shirt.  

Was your hair up?

JG In a tiara? No. On the contrary, it was straight, sexy, and very contemporary.      

Do you not find it ironic that after so many years of sleeping on floorboards in London you should have been given your big break in Paris?

JG I still sleep on floorboards, only these days it’s at Versailles! I don’t think the set-up existed in London in the ’80s, and I’m glad to see the British Fashion Council forging more links with manufacturers of late. The fashion industry in London seems to have moved in leaps and bounds since the times when I was part of it. Look at Bella [Freud], who’s designing for Jaeger. I would have loved to be hooked up with Marks & Spencer’s manufacturing when I was in London, but they just weren’t having it back then.   

What’s the first thing a plumber’s son from Gibraltar splurges on when he makes it big?

JG [laughs] Well, not a blowtorch! I’m a bit of a gypsy, and material things aren’t what make me tick.  

So no Mies van der Rohe recliners at your place?

JG [pedantic] Mies van der Reeeew! You’re talking to John Galliano here! I collect photos, but that’s by no means my raison d’être. The only thing that’s conspicuous about my consumption has to be its decadence. Nomadic, romantic, eclectic: My lifestyle is like my collections. I bought the complete works of Edward Curtis, but I see them more as an investment. I’m not a big spender. I really don’t hold much value for money.  

How do you feel when you see the nouveau riche ladies lunching at L’Avenue in Dior?

JG One’s always flattered when the clients wear the clothes. Hmmm…diplomacy, diplomacy…Nouveau riche ladies aren’t the only ones to wear Dior.  

You’re famous for wearing nail polish and corsets…

JG [purrs] Well, not today…[shrieks] And never at the same time, darling! JAMAIS! Never nail polish AND a corset, sweetie!  

Do you ever nip down to the couture salon to have something run up for you?

JG Yeah. Raphael, our fantastic tailor, has made me jeans and the odd jacket. He worked with Paquito at the Chanel atelier for many years and is such a great talent. He’s all hands, is outrageously theatrical, and has a great sense of color. He’s Italian, and the ladies love him.  

Where do you have your chest waxed?

JG [laughs] Who said I waxed my chest?  

I read it on your chest hair in 1996.

JG That was wig! A glue-on! A fake toupee!  

Do you shower at the gym?

JG No, because I’m on such a tight schedule that I change, grab my protein drink, jump straight into the car, and shower when I get home. They’re all like, “Come and have a hammam.” If only I had time to sit there in the steam bath!  

Do you swap fitness tips with Karl Lagerfeld?

JG What a dashing figure he’s cutting of late! Suuuper fitted! Ultra moulant!  

Why do you strip on the catwalk?

JG When I first started at Dior, I was accused of all sorts of things: taking drugs, drinking, having AIDS. I started working out to show them what a healthy, disciplined guy I really was. That’s when I started taking my top off, because believe me, I don’t have the abs of an alcoholic.  

So you wouldn’t agree with Saint Laurent, who says that drugs help fuel the creative process?

JG Not only do I not agree but I’m in no rush to be in that state at his age, either.  

So what was with the smiley faces and marijuana leaves on Dior T-shirts last season?

JG They’re part of our popular culture. Like every kid, you experiment. I don’t have a problem with any of those things. I’m just over journalists calling up asking my PR to confirm that I OD’d and I’m dead.  

How did you feel about Suzy Menkes being barred from Vuitton after slamming the Dior show in the Herald Tribune?

JG That wasn’t my decision. Suzy—however misinformed she may be—simply doesn’t deserve such treatment. Give her a fifth row—much more humiliating! I think the reason behind that was her very negative and agitated piece. [pompous] “The slaughter of the bourgeois image”! Anywhere else it would have been the
“re-invention” of the house. It was all tied in with the war, which I thought was rather distasteful. Fine if you’re covering the war for Time, but if you’re covering a show, I didn’t find it necessary to use words that might upset people. The show wasn’t any more violent than any other Dior or Galliano show I’ve ever done.      

How do the Oscar ceremonies translate in terms of sales?

JG They have a great influence, and Nicole [Kidman] looks wicked in a dress.   

Is she under contract?

JG She’s not under contract, and she’s not forced to wear anything. She’s a friend. I love working with her. She wears the clothes really well, has a mean sense of humor, and goes all out for it with the jewelry and the bag and everything. 

EXTRA CREDITS

Clothing Dior Haute Couture  Makeup Val Garland (Untitled using Christian Dior)  Hair Sam McKnight (Sam McKnight Definitive Styling)  Manicurist Marian Newman (Amalgamated Talent)  Models Liberty Ross (Marilyn), Inga (Viva), Rosemary Fergusson (Ford), Jacquetta Wheeler (Viva), Erin O’Connor (Ford), Alek Wek (IMG)  Location Big Sky Studios, London  Scanning Idea Digital Media  Retouching Metro Imaging  

MORE TO LOVE

IN FOOTBALL WE TRUST HBD KAROLINA KURKOVA ANA GASTEYER BEST VIDEOS OF 2012: SOLANGE KNOWLES
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