John Galliano went to trial on Wednesday here in Paris, where a packed courtroom sat for seven hours, listening to the designer and witnesses remember (and not remember) the now-infamous evening at La Perle. And tonight, a no-less-packed house—standing-room types stood on stairways that climbed literally to the rafters—took in the first John Galliano menswear collection without Galliano.
Big Splash—as the show was named in homage to the 1974 David Hockney doc, A Bigger Splash—took sixties London for its stomping grounds. Pop Art scenemakers provided the juice. First Peter Blake, who inspired military coats and handcrafts like Navajo knits. Then David Hockney, he of the owlish glasses and the thatch of blond, the floppy bow ties, and the color-pop socks. The impossibly beautiful Peter Schlesinger—Hockney's model, muse, and lover—was the basis for the tanned and trunk-clad hunks that made up the undies-and-swim portion that continues to be essential to any Galliano show. And the Mayfair and Soho after-party scene was an excuse (not a bad one, either) for evening deshabille: sausage-tight satin pants snaking with silvery pin details, Le Smokings sans shirts, and so on.
The mood was a smidge more pop (soundtrack by the Kinks!) and less operatic than some of the baroque snowfall-and-sandstorm spectacles the house namesake used to stage. But the clothes were not dissimilar from seasons past. Credit for that goes to the house's stalwart guiding spirit, Bill Gaytten, a 23-year veteran of the label (and member of the Dior design studio where, at least for the present, he will also stay). He has long been as much a part of Galliano's brand as the man himself. And after the final two models—long-haired, mustachioed JG doppelgangers—took their turns (just as the designer used to do a full runway spin), it was Gaytten who came out to give a timid bow to an appreciative roar. Dior CEO Sidney Toledano applauded from the front row. And so the world turns.