My love affair with John Galliano – only his genius, darling – is well known. Ten years ago I wrote a book with this most talented and modest man, and I am about to start working with him on a new one. In the time between the two, I have seen him grow to such a marvellous flowering that I truly can say that he is the fashion genius of the age, with a sense of beauty and a response to history second to none. And his couture show this season showed him at his very best.
Sensitive, as always, to women and the legacy of Christian Dior, which he treats with the utmost respect whilst never letting it subdue his own creativity, this season he added (as he frequently does) an extra dimension. This time it was in the form of the cutting techniques of Charles James, the eccentric, obsessive Anglo-American designer who came to his peak in the fifties and sixties. Notorious for quarrelling with his clients – all very rich American socialites – to such a degree that he often refused to let them take delivery of evening gowns they had sometimes waited years for, he was the perfectionist to end all perfectionists. In that he has much in common with John but, apart from the talent and integrity, no two men could be more different.
Galliano started his show with Edwardian equestriennes in sharply-cut riding jackets in hunting pink that looked severe at first glance but were softly tailored to the now traditional Galliano/Dior cut invented by Galliano several seasons ago and still being subtlely refined. They were worn with side-draped New Look skirts which the high street will make into fabulously sexy little minis. Then came the cocktail dresses, miraculously involving great rolls and swathes of fabric to make powerful shapes more sculptural than anything seen in Paris this season. And finally, the ballgowns, all of a beauty that we have come to expect from this man. The colours were amazing and the echoes of some of Dior's great gowns from the past presenetd an hommage to the great man so subtle that few in the audience (including sad little Tavi in the front row) would realise it. This was a show that confirmed that in John Galliano's hands questions as to the modern relevance of couture – I have asked them myself – are in themselves irrelevant. He continues to bestride the world like a colossus.
All photos © Larry Ewing