When a model with a blue-painted face, wearing a giant tinsel hood, a vast exploding bubble of ruffles, green Lurex leggings and six-inch glitter platforms opens a show, we sense we are not exactly in for the average run-through of clothes to buy for summer. What John Galliano did instead was to lay on an outrageous piece of performance art, a spectacle that flew exuberantly in the face of fashion's normal purpose.
As inspiration for his latest piece of theater, the designer cited, among other things, Leigh Bowery, icon of early '80s London club culture. Galliano's 2003 homage to that era, in which competitive dressing was taken to ever more bizarre heights of do-it-yourself costume, took the form of enormously puffed-up shapes supported on hoops and covered in flounces; massive military jackets; swathes of sari fabric; and Indian-inspired makeup and jewelry.
Though someone searching for something to wear among this lot might have a hard time, Galliano is nothing if not sensitized to the current mood in fashion. The general message the collection conveyed was about the enjoyment of color, which has emerged as a major trend for spring. For his finale, he sent out girls whose voluminous outfits were covered in colored powders used in Indian festivals. As the models twirled, the audience was showeredand, incredibly, responded with laughter. As Galliano said, "It's about time for a bit of joie de vivre, isn't it?"