March 04, 2005 Paris
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!