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John Galliano Patrick Demarchelier Maison Margiela
John GallianoPhotography Patrick Demarchelier, via Maison Margiela

John Galliano opens up about meeting Martin Margiela

Speaking in a rare interview, the designer recalls an encounter with the fashion’s greatest enigma

John Galliano – one of fashion’s most celebrated, controversial and creative characters – has given a rare interview with Claudia Croft for The Sunday Times Style.

In it, the designer who was the creative director of Christian Dior before being dismissed following anti-Semitic remarks he made while inebriated, talks about his “self-destructive” creative process prior to this dismissal and his subsequent rehabilitation. 

“The creative process is all-consuming, and that’s something in me – one of my many character defects – that I have to keep in check,” he says. “When I’m fitting and draping, the house could burn down and I wouldn’t be aware. You can get to five o’clock in the morning and I’m still there.”

18 months ago, however, following his rehabilitation, Galliano was appointed as creative director of legendary luxury house Maison Margiela. Here, he has been working in more healthy way, starting his day by going to the gym – “It keeps me in the present, which is so important, because for so long I wasn’t” – and a breakfast of “green tea, fruits of the season, and Quaker porridge oats with almond milk.”

Galliano goes on to recall a meeting he had with Martin Margiela himself soon after accepting the post as creative director of the house. “He came to tea,” he says. “I’d forgotten all the questions I wanted to ask.” After hours of talking (about their shared love of 17th-century literature, 18th-century costume and kitsch), Margiela apparently said, “John, take what you will from the DNA of the house, protect yourself and then make it your own.” 

Later in the interview, Galliano discusses his approach to fashion design which hasn’t changed since his tenure at Dior. “It’s always been driven by emotion. I’ve always been inspired by periods of history,” he says. “It might not be as relevant today, but it’s that backstage thing of trying to understand how things were put together and how they could be put together for the future, for tomorrow.”

Read the full interview here.