As the audience trooped into John Galliano's gritty urban set complete with
burned-out car, Mr. Bojangles was looping on the soundtrack. In fact,
that grizzled old soul was the inspiration for a show that celebrated street
musicians, from the jazzbos of Bourbon Street in New Orleans to the
drum-beating Hare Krishnas who never tire of trolling London's Oxford
Galliano's genius lies in his ability to transform the most arcane sources into irresistible fashion delirium, and his spring 2006 collection was no exception. It was a back-to-front affair, starting with funereal evening wear and ending with one of the designer's Leigh Boweryinfluenced pagan lovefests, featuring pit stops in Peru, Appalachia (hobo chic is another Galliano signature), and a Formula One racetrack.
Highlights? There was some ingenious play with silk scarves, which showed up as the lapels on a pinstripe jacket and as a trompe l'oeil shirt under a leather waistcoat. A Shaker quilt applied to a denim jacket had a why-didn't-I-think-of-that logic, and Galliano's patchwork jeans reached new heights of sequined, embroidered overload (though the denim jumpsuit with its weight of logo patches might be an ironic wink too far). A three-piece pinstripe suit nodded toward accessibility but was upstaged by a brown leather hobo coat. The spectacle concluded with a rain of petals, through which Galliano's cast took one final turn before the Pied Piper himself clambered out of that abandoned car and took his bow.