Hello Friday Scoopers! Today we will be talking about John Galliano and on how amazing his journey has been so far! From his upbringings, to his special moments in his career and to where he is today. We will learn about his work and about him as a person. We will try to understand his work and determination and at the end I leave you ladies and gents to leave your comment!
He was born on November 28th 1960s in working class London. He was the middle child of three. His father was John Joseph and he worked as plumber. His mother was Ana Guillen Rueda also known as Anita. The family was a devout Catholic and they were always attending mass on Sundays. Anita was the one that nourished Galliano’s love for fashion.
Later on, Galliano studied graphics, film-making, fine art and art illustration. Out of all, he really enjoyed the art of drawing and was very good at it.
He apprenticed in the London theaters for the costume department. Besides his work in the theater, he also interned for Tommy Hilfiger.
The Making the Galliano Brand
At 24, after his graduation, Galliano launches his own label. He launched in 1986 the spring summer collection which he based on the post-revolution French era. He was obsessed with the 18th century style and fashion. The women’s wear was romantic and ethereal, in soft colors and sheer materials. Empire waists was a centric element as well, which as a reference is the style we see in the new Bridgerton Netflix TV Series.
Right from the start, one thing was clear for everyone. Galliano was talented. He had that grandeur, those fantasy ideas that he would bring to reality through his clothes. The problem was his garments were not wearable. Not only in the style sense of them, but also in the tailoring. It has been said Galliano was making clothes to fit him, but didn’t consider the woman’s body in the process. As a result his clothes were not selling, as they were simply not fitting the average woman. Not to mention if the buyer was a more curvaceous woman, there was simply nothing for her in Galliano’s collection. This is the reason why collections such as ‘The Fallen Angel’ didn’t receive orders from retailers and even if they would have ordered, only 20% would later sell.
Galliano didn’t understand the monetary aspect of a business. He also often got in conflict with magazine editors as he came across very blunt and picky. It was due to all these reasons why in June 1986, Galliano and then financial backer Johan Brun made an announcement declaring the desolation of their partnership.
Not long after he managed to get a deal with Aguecheek for financial backing. It was a fresh start for Galliano and he wanted to make the most out of it. He cleaned up his appearance by starting to wear tailored suits and polished shoes. This collaboration lasted for a while and had few achievements and successful collections. However by the end of 1987, the partnership ended as Bertelsen was loosing too much money and Galliano’s collections were not compensating with enough revenue.
Back in 1976 he was in a romantic relationship with John Flett, and he was a big inspiration for Galliano without a doubt. But even more so was Amanda Greive (later known as Harlech after marring). Amanda and Galliano shared the same fantasy and with her as his muse, everything became fascinating. She would push Galliano’s creativity beyond it’s limits and that’s why they were perfect for each other. The dynamic duo is also mentioned in Andre’s Leon Talley’s book ‘The Chiffon Trenches’, which I spoke about in my article on fashion literature I recommend. Andre was a close friend of Amanda’s and he mentions in his book how much of an influence Amanda Harlech actually was for Galliano. She would send him everything that would fit as inspiration and create a story for the shows. She was bringing his visions to life!
The Changes in the Fashion Industry
The fashion industry was changing. It was in this time that Bernard Arnault, a real-estate developer, entered the scene in late 1980s. He cleverly acquired Christian Dior and pushed Christian Lacroix to launch his own label.
He also acquired a majority stake in Celine and by 1988 he had a hostile take-over of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which included Kenzo and Givenchy. It wasn’t a pleasant process and the media has covered every bit of it. You see dear reader, Arnault had planned to revolutionize the fashion industry by bringing new and young designers and expand the brands globally. In theory now, this plan sounds genius right? If you think about it, we owe a great deal to Arnault as a consumer today. Back then fashion houses designed only for the ‘Old Money’ families and catered to an older demographic for this reason. But as middle class market was ever-growing, Arnault saw an opportunity and banked on it. In fact, for many of the French brands this was a very much needed change.
The Givenchy brand was declining rapidly and even Christian Dior was far from the game changing trends Monsieur Christian Dior has set before his death. Arnault needed the spark back to Givenchy and after long consideration, he appointed John Galliano as the new Creative Director.
Galliano at Givenchy
Givenchy was and still is a renowned fashion house. Not only that Hubert de Givenchy was a great couturier, but he was also very well known for creating the iconic looks of Hollywood darlin Audrey Hepburn. The choice of appointing Galliano as Creative Designer was differently seen as a risky one, but this is what Arnault wanted. He wanted a buzz around the brand, publicity and in turn, a revival of the brand.
Galliano’s time in Givenchy was not without issues. Galliano liked to go partying a lot in this period and nothing about him was ever discrete. His first Givenchy collection was also not the best, but what kept him with the position was the success of his own label. His ‘Pin-up Collection’ received a wave of acclamation and flooded the press with praise and acclamation for him. Even though at Givenchy his results were not the best, Arnault was getting what he always wanted. Buzz in the market. People couldn’t get enough of Galliano and this was influencing the way people saw Givenchy by default.
His tenure at Givenchy was short and sweet. Arnault had different plans for Galliano, so in 1996 he offered him the creative Director position at Dior. He thought Galliano can make a real change and steer Dior into a new era.
Galliano at Dior
It was a new start for Galliano and seemed that everything went in his favour. His financial problems were gone now that he was part of Dior. He had luxuries like no other and often been reported to abuse his privileges. While he was spiraling into fame, his all time muse Amanda Harlech was going though quite some troubles. She was going through divorce and had financial problems. It was imperative that she got a good position at Dior, or at least that’s what she thought. Unfortunately Galliano didn’t fight for her and she eventually reached out to her friend Andre Leon Talley which I mentioned above. He was good friends with Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel, so he managed to help Amanda with a contract there. That was the last time Galliano and Amanda were in touch, which was a sad ending to an important partnership.. Quite sad right?
When John Galliano took over, Dior was in bad shape. Sales were slow and in small numbers compare to what it could be. There were only 10 Dior stores then, which is kinda hard to imagine if you are reading this in 2020. Just imagine how much the brand grew. But back to Galliano.
His couture at Dior was outstanding and generated a lot of praise. Critics were saying that Galliano earned his spot among the great couturiers, the only issue was that his creations were not resonating with the era. Galliano was out of touch with the modern women and the contemporary life. So in spite of making magnificent clothing, his clothes were once again not wearable.
Most notably, his shows were outrageously expensive, causing a stir amongst the board of executives at Dior. His biggest fiasco was the Diorient Express, which had a physical train coming in at the beginning of the show. Extravagant much? Well yes, everything about John was extravagant and over the top. This was his charm after all right?
The sales at Dior were increasing year on year exponentially thanks to a surge in leather goods and accessories. By the year 2000s the LVMH group was seeing 40% sales increase compared to the privies year, only in the first 6 months. It was also the year when Galliano launched the infamous ‘Saddle Bag’, which was just a staple ever since its’ launch.
2000s was also the year when the ‘Addict’ Lipstick was launched and it came hand in hand with Galliano’s new autumn-winter collection, The theme was dear reader, sadomasochism. And yes, it was very controversial back then as you can imagine. John Galliano did it again. He made a shock wave of headlines, which in turn resulted in massive sales results.
Photo copyrights to Pinterest
The start of a decline
All was great for John Galliano until 2005. That year he felt more pressure than ever and his schedule was very very tight. Work pressure got worse with Arnault watching him every second and monitoring all his doings. The sales were great, but so were the costs of the shows. Arnault pressured Galliano by reducing his show costs considerably and pushing him to meet the annual targets like never before.
John Galliano was also known for his addictions at the time. They were going on and off and some periods more than others. He had struggles with substance abuse, and this was reflecting on his image as a reliable person. There were many things happening in Galliano’s life, but in 2007 his right hand Steve Robinson has passed away due to substance abuse. This has affected Galliano more than he led on, as Steven has been by John’s side since the beginning. He was the one making sure everything was in order during Galliano’s mysterious absences. He was a talented tailor as well, being the reason some of the creations of Galliano came to life. So with no doubt, the loss of Robinson was a great deal for John.
2007 was also a year when the sales at Dior were not going very well and were clearly influenced by the economic crises. There were already rumors that Arnault was looking for a replacement for Galliano at Dior, but nothing was official.
Even his own brand sales were not going well, partly due to the fact that most of the most popular retailers were not selling Galliano’s brand.
John was showing signs of loosing his grounds already and the excessive abuse of pills and alcohol was influencing his behaviour. Later that year he made a scene with his work colleagues during a trip in New York and this time the executives heard about it. There was enough drama in the fashion industry already and people were starting to worry about Galliano.
In February 2011, Galliano was caught publicly stating he ‘loved Hitler’ and making anti-semitic statements. He was very offensive towards people and calling them ugly. The story made headlines everywhere and it shook the fashion industry to the core. Dior management decided to fire Galliano from Dior and many other industry leaders were appalled by John’s behaviour. More so, as Natalie Portman was just appointed the face of the advertising campaign of ‘Miss Dior Cherie’ perfume launch. She issued a statement saying she will not be associated with Galliano, and rightfully so, as she is Jewish.
John Galliano went to trial and forced out of the spotlight for a while. With Ana Wintour’s help he collaborated with Oscar de la Renta, but the public was not ready to hear about him yet. You see, Ana and Andre Leon Talley were great supporters of Galliano, and have tried to help him out. They believed in Galliano’s talent and considered him a true couturier. Not that the world was doubting that, but he simply offended too many people with his ugly statements back in 2011.
A new beginning
It was only in October 2014 that John Galliano was appointed as creative director at Maison Martin Margiela where he is working until today. He blamed his behavior on the excessive use of pills, alcohol and other substances and saying he doesn’t even remember most part of what he did back on 2011. After many apologies and campaigns, and of course with the help of Vogue, he got back on track at a reputable fashion house.
Today, John Galliano has a stable position and he is no longer making headlines with his bad habits. He just does what he likes, creating fashion.
He is and still will be the guy that changed the industry in many ways. John changed Dior and the way the brand is catering to different demographics. Not to mentioned is an extraordinary couturier and was given several awards to commemorate his talent.
Galliano will be remembered and as an important person in the history of fashion, it is imperative that we know more about him. I hope this article was helpful Friday Scoopers and see you next week!