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Is this the second coming of designer John Galliano?

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Fashion |Opinion

Zendaya arrives at Met Gala 2024 in a vintage Givenchy gown by John Galliano Credits: Photo by ANDREA RENAULT / AFP

If ever there was a star that shone exceptionally bright at this year’s Met Gala, it was that of John Galliano. Despite the British designer not attending in person, his triumphant designs were worn during some of the biggest red carpet moments of the event, including co-chairs Zendaya and Bad Bunny, Kim Kardashian, Ariana Grande—who performed in the evening—and Gwendoline Christie, to name but a few.

Just this week, film director Greta Gerwig wore couture Margiela at the Cannes Film Festival, as celebrity stylists seek out his visionary designs when it comes to haute dressing their clients, some turning to his archives when he designed for Givenchy and Dior. Ever since the much-lauded Maison Margiela haute couture show in Paris last January, John Galliano has returned to the highest echelons of the fashion industry and has remained top of mind. In today’s economised industry, where fashion has largely been stripped of fantasy in order to sell at high volumes, he remains a rare talent who operates in a league of his own.

Reparations and forgiveness

The downfall from his antisemitic rants in a Parisian café in 2011 led to his firing from Dior, but a decade on, Mr. Galliano has made reparations that appear both genuine and bygone, with his contrition witnessed on camera in the now-streaming High and Low documentary directed by Kevin MacDonald. Condé Nast’s Anna Wintour has quietly supported Mr. Galliano and was rumoured to have desired a Galliano-themed Met Gala, but was met with a cautious museum board that feared a potential decrease in Costume Institute donations and found it too controversial a theme. Wintour's seal of approval is often a barometer for the industry at large.

However, there are other rumours circulating about Mr. Galliano. One persistent one is that he may be up for a role at a bigger house. Both Kering’s Balenciaga and LVMH’s Givenchy are being mentioned as potential options, signaling that Mr. Galliano has truly been welcomed back into the fold.

Mr. Galliano, the genius from Central Saint Martins who, along with Alexander McQueen, defined an era in fashion that has yet to return. The excitement of their fashion shows drew inspiration from historical periods, literature, and various cultures, creating a vivid narrative and immersive experience for those lucky enough to attend. Their ability to tell a story through fashion, complete with elaborate set designs, music, and choreography, was true storytelling long before it became a social media marketing tool.

There appears to be a demand for the return of his dramatic silhouettes, eye for tailoring (who else perfected the bias cut like John Galliano?) and use of unconventional materials. Both Galliano and McQueen had a fearless exploration of the darker aspects of humanity that made their shows both unsettling and fascinating. While Maison Margiela and Diesel founder Renzo Rosso was the first to bring Galliano out of obscurity, he may now be ready for something bolder, bigger, and new.

Anna Wintour
John Galliano
Renzo Rosso