Sunday, October 5, 2008

Like getting a lump of coal instead of Louboutins...

John Galliano

Today marked one of the most exciting days that comes twice a year; the day that John Galliano presents his signature ready to wear collection to the masses of editors, buyers and diehard Galliano groupies. Now that Dior has become stagnant, boring and not even all that beautiful (do we recall the Mrs. Robinson nightmare that was F/W 08?), Galliano's signature line has become a safe haven for all of his refugee fans. Not only is it more "him", it's also experienced a creative revival. After years of experimentation and overindulgence in which Galliano's gifts became obscured by too much theatre, John finally managed to grab the reins and give the world what they love from him; drama, romance, sex, glamour, eccentricity and some seriously gorgeous gowns. Starting with F/W 07, he set off on a roll that came crashing to a hault with his S/S 09 collection shown today. Gone was the sophistication, the madness, the decadence that Galliano is all about and in it's place was something that was entirely marketable, bland and more than a little bit flat. We all know that these are some tough financial times we're going into but the thing is, John's best collections have always been completely out of the realm of wearability....until you see the clothes on a rack without the hair, makeup, platforms, accessories, sets and stories that the runway presents. Once you see the clothes, they make sense. This time he gave it to us in pre-packaged bites so that even the most dense non-fashionista can comprehend them; bland jacket, drapey dress, printed ruffles and silky blouse, all of which are wearable, salable and forgettable. Worse than that, they're not even particularly beautiful, which could be the most tragic thing about them.

Inspired in part by Napoleon-era charicatures by James Gillray, the opening looks were more Queens Guard than Waterloo, at least to me, but I'm no expert in European history so don't take my word for it. Sure, you could see hints of charicature-like wackiness in the overblown technicolor wigs, Napoleonic bicorne hats and flowery bonnets, but the clothes barely registered anything close to humor or exaggeration. The main problem was that, for all of the historic inspiration that apparently went into making this collection, you don't see any of it in the clothing. Obviously it would be too easy to do military frogging and epaulettes in wild colors, and frankly, Galliano is above that. But would it be asking too much to actually see some inspiration in the designs?

James Gillray charicatures
images from and

Of course with Galliano, there's always an array of lighter than air or sexier than all hell bias cut dresses, but even those failed to elicit any sort of admiration on my part. It was a sort of "been there, done that much better" situation because quite frankly they didn't look on par with John's usual work. He's like Vionnet re-incarnated, he knows how to drape and mold around the female form better than most designers could even pretend to, and he can practically do it in his sleep, so why did he squander than on dresses that don't look all that special or even that well thought out? Even the fact that they're completely transparent doesn't save them from being mediocre.

I mean, how could this... to this?

images from,,

Bottom line; it doesn't. The technique may be the same, but the results are worlds apart. The one real highlight of the show, for me at least, are the shoes. They're insanely fabulous. Part tranny, part Jetsons, part chopine...and in so many shiny colors. No they're not entirely wearable, but I think if you love something, then who gives a f*** about wearability?

Overall, this has been a pretty lackluster season, as so many people predicted it would be, but it's been particularly off for John. Even the joyous cartoonery (that's officially a word now) of this collection, which does stand out for being a little more upbeat than most, can't change the fact that this season fashion has been missing a lot of the things that make it so incredible. It's been four weeks of shows that are like waking up on Christmas morning to find that Santa didn't bring you anything you asked for. Here's holding out hope that Marc, Alber and Miuccia can at least end the season on a high note tommorow, but in the meantime, a glimpse back at one of Galliano's finest moments....

all fashion show photos from

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