The exquisitely lacquered Dita Von Teese, wearing John Galliano's twenties camisole slipdress of beaded nude satin, blithely declared that she had been carried across the snow to protect her swan's down mules so that she could take her place in the front row. She was the perfect almost real-life embodiment of the otherworldly silver-screen sirens whom the designer evoked in his fall show.
Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, with its playfully sophisticated costumes by Oscar-winning Sandy Powell, is fast proving the fashion world's inspirational movie of the season. This lavishly told tale of glamour, obsession, and megalomania was channeled by Galliano's Hollywood back-lot setcomplete with arc lights, shadowy scene shifters, and canvas director's chairs (their backs stamped "JOHN GALLIANO STUDIO") drawn up to stars' well-lit makeup tables.
Galliano's collection reprised many of his own Oscar-worthy hits, and added some new obsessionslike the Warholian screen prints of over-made-up eyes that fluttered on the back of gleaming white blazers and cabans. With their finger-waved hair, bee-stung glossy black Clara Bow lips, and arched brows, the girls evoked a celebrated ad campaign shot by Javier Vallhonrat in the designer's wildly inventive late-eighties London days. And their clothes brought back further glory moments in his career. Slouchy blazers and wide-leg pants, complete with suede golfing shoes, suggested Dietrich's mannish off-duty wardrobe, now worn with a modern hip-hop attitude. Galliano rang the changes on his signature thirties-inspired bias-cut dresses via appliqués of drifts of butterflies or prints of overscale, Warhol-look carnations; his pretty twenties debutante dresses, meanwhile, were updated with powder-pink marabou or Wiener Werkstätte-inspired trim. Even more playfully self-referential was a giant parka in chinoiserie-embroidered poison-green satinan obvious allusion to Nicole Kidman's defining 1997 Dior Academy Awards dress, its hood edged in the pale mink that trimmed the hem of that gown.
This greatest-hits collection, while not leading us into a brave new fashion world, at least confirmed the myriad reasons that make Galliano greatnot least the preternatural sense of self that saw him take his bow amid a lavishly choreographed explosion of flaming tapers and the whoosh of a wind machine. Vive le roi!