It”s a vintage season for John Galliano—in more ways than one. At Dior, he celebrated the 60th anniversary of the New Look in high movie-star style. Then his own decadently staged collection returned to the romantic, excessive, eccentric hothouse scenes people so adored him for in the early nineties, complete with “vintage” Galliano bias-cut dresses. The notion of entertaining fashion audiences as guests and treating models like individuals has become such a forgotten art that the arrivals at the show—greeted with a cast of made-up Parisian street characters, overflowing dinner tables, potted palms, dogs, chicken coops, Turkish rugs, bordello couches, and an unmade brass bed—were instantly put in party mood. We were in Pigalle during the tens and twenties—the world of Kiki de Montparnasse and Brassai”s Madame Bijou.
And there were the girls, striking totally convincing attitudes, as if no one could teach them a thing about absinthe drinking or streetwalking. Who knew this supposedly blank generation of Sashas, Lilys, and Cocos had it in them to act up like a bunch of old-school supermodels? That, like the clothes, seemed a flashback to everything that made Galliano good in his first years in Paris. The theme sent him off on an orgy of costume reference (and self-reference) that brought out deep-red Poiret-era coats whorled into asymmetric rose ruffles, gigantic leg-of-mutton-sleeved jackets, high-waisted redingotes, flower-printed tea dresses, and a multiplicity of his signature bias-cut gowns, in everything from black velvet and sheer lace to face-powder pink and dusty-tangerine chiffon.
The roll of credits included Stephen Jones” millinery, Pat McGrath”s makeup, Julien d”Ys hair, and Michael Howells” set design. All played crucial supporting roles in bringing Galliano gloriously back to full cinematic form. Was there anything new here? Well, yes, in the way the show touched the Poiret sensation of the season; then again, no—but perhaps that was exactly the point. If the early nineties are a reference point in fashion now, here was Galliano, bringing himself back for a new generation—and judging by the way those 20-year-olds got into it, they”re ready for every ruffle and cloche the man can throw their way.
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