I just finished reading “Gods & Kings”, Dana Thomas’ book profiling two of the most prolific designers of the past quarter century, Alexander McQueen and John Galliano. Often touted as rivals, the two designers experienced growth and fame at the same time, with their careers on an almost parallel path, before everything went south. McQueen famously died in 2010 and not so long afterwards Galliano was fired from his position at Christian Dior after being filmed on a drunken, anti-Semitic outburst in a Parisian bar. McQueen is widely revered. His creativity is said to be unmatched and where Galliano often made costumey pieces that were nothing like what was actually sold in stores, McQueen was said to make ultra-creative and artistic pieces that clients could actually see themselves wearing. Both men had similarly tortured private lives and similarly profiled public lives.
This collection is one of Galliano’s most controversial. It was even the inspiration for Mugatu’s collection entitled Derelicte in Zoolander. Basically, Galliano took inspiration from the homeless population of Paris and repackaged what he had observed from the underprivileged on the streets of the city and the banks of the Seine, where he used to go jogging, as haute couture. He was also inspired by images taken by photographer Diane Arbus of mentally ill patients. Rightly so, he received intense criticism for this move. However, 17 years later we are still talking about the collection. This New York Times article, written back in 2000 when the collection was debuted, explains the whole situation well and features quotes from Galliano who failed to see anything wrong with his actions. From what I have read about Galliano, a lack of accountability seems to be a common thing for him which is sad as it can overshadow his artistry. Regardless of the intention of this collection and the initial reaction, it has secured an important place in fashion history and that is something to remember.