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John Galliano Womenswear A/W11

An intimate presentation of twenty looks pointed to both past and future in a simultaneously celebratory and sad outing

We can’t be sure if this presentation marked the end as most would assume that John Galliano’s namesake label will shutter in light of recent events but it sure felt like one. For many in the room – people like Mrs B of Browns – who first spotted Galliano’s talent back in 1985, the presentation will have ignited memories of Galliano’s 1994 iconic show of black ensembles in the home of patron Sao Schlumberger. Even if those memories don’t exist then what we saw in the twenty looks were the glimmers of Galliano’s way with conjuring up a fantasy in fashion.

It wasn’t by any means a complete collection nor was it even a full story-telling vision as Galliano’s shows normally are but in this intimate setting in amongst a carefully set up environment of chaise lounges, playing cards on the floor, a rocking horse and an antique bicycle propped up to evoke the strange feeling of a nursery with no child playing in it, we were there to admire parts of Galliano’s legacy as a designer who always felt free to reach the upper limits of imagination. Galliano never worked in the confines of being slavishly relevant or contemporary but instead took you on a journey that in this instance was early 20th century Paris, a decadent atmosphere, where halterneck gowns adorned with arrows, opera coats, slip dresses and kimono robes with mink sleeves were modeled by dramatic feminine sashaying and turning femmes that Galliano always favoured.

A feeling of sensuality was present in the fraying of a tweed jacket or a fur collared jacket cut-away at the back as well as the use of latex in a trench that contrasted with a delicate purple slip dress underneath. Likewise a mint green kimono robe painted with lace was the sort of fantasy piece that sums up Galliano’s ability to make people sigh over sheer beauty without analysing what trend context it fit into. In this presentation which may be the label’s last, we got to see all of that up close to fully appreciate Galliano’s skills as a tailor, his eye for details as well as his methods of persuasion that made our imaginations soar at different points throughout his career.

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