Dissecting a John Galliano show is like plunging into
the tornado that scoots Dorothy off to Oz. There is so
much stuff coming at you that it's hard to draw
breathlike old Dot, you surrender.
The heart of Galliano's latest collection had something to do with the boy tribes of London. When the show kicked off in a roar of noise and a whoosh of steam, it was a collision of Oliver Twist and A Clockwork Orange. A Fagin stand-in was given a striking coat, wool above the waist, sheer below, with an elegant tracery of white stitching at the shoulder (such fabric mixes were a recurrent motif). His gang of thieves, meanwhile, stomped past in chunky heeled boots and voluminous coats, sprayed to look dusty (industrial treatments were another fabric feature).
Urchins evolved into punks in pink bondage trousers and graphic T-shirts advertising "the cowhand's favourite." (Printed with a nude torso, they recalled vintage Westwood.) Baggy combats and puckered, knotted knitwear evoked Gorillaz' teenage wasteland. Headgear recalled Fritz Lang's equally dystopian Metropolis (Kraftwerk intoning The Robots on the soundtrack). Galliano's signature self-aggrandizement featured in a leather jacket printed with his crowned head and a graphic that proclaimed him "Lone Wolf." Ever the canny businessman, he inserted a healthy plug for his underwear line. A chiffon frock coat printed with an illustration by eighteenth-century artist James Gillray and worn over green-striped breeches restored the fantasy with a shot of divine decadence.