Galliano 'snubs Paris' with comeback London show
Almost four years after being banished from the Paris fashion world, Dior's former star designer John Galliano is making his comeback on Monday with his first haute couture show in London.
The 54-year-old, widely regarded as one of the most brilliant fashion minds of his generation, was sacked by Dior in March 2011 after being filmed delivering a drunken anti-Semitic tirade in a Paris bar.
He has kept a low profile since then and some say they will never forgive him for his offensive remarks, but Maison Martin Margiela gave him a second chance by appointing him creative director in October.
The announcement that his first show would take place in London, the city where he trained and made his name, was seen in some circles as a snub to Paris, the home of haute couture.
The collection was subsequently dropped from the Paris couture calendar at the end of January, although it will be shown by appointment.
But there is feverish excitement to see what the designer known for his theatrical flair has come up with in his first collection with a fashion house known for its avant-garde minimalism.
"It will be interesting to see if Mr. Galliano's time away from the industry has incited a creative evolution, and whether he has tried to adapt his aesthetic to that of the brand he now represents," wrote Vanessa Friedman, fashion journalist at the New York Times, in a blog last week.
"Hopefully the answer to both questions will be yes; otherwise, he risks the whiff of irrelevance."
- Back to his London roots -
Maison Margiela said the choice of London, where the show takes place at 1630 GMT in a modern building in the centre of the capital, reflected both his personal links and the city's traditional tailoring history and heritage.
Galliano was born in the British territory of Gibraltar but was raised in London and studied in the capital before heading to Paris to join Givenchy and then Dior -- and the British fashion pack has already welcomed him back.
In December, Galliano appeared on stage at the British Fashion Awards to present the Outstanding Achievement Award to "my friend", US Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who wore one of his new creations for Maison Margiela.
Galliano was viewed as the driving force behind the huge success of Dior during nearly 15 years at the fashion house.
But his glittering career imploded after he was captured in a mobile phone video hurling abuse at people in a bar in Paris's historic Jewish quarter.
He was found guilty in September 2011 of making anti-Semitic insults in public -- an offence under French law -- although he was spared jail and was instead fined.
He apologised and blamed his outbursts on alcohol and drugs, and underwent rehabilitation treatment.
Since then, Galliano had been almost entirely absent from fashion, apart from a three-week designer-in-residence role at Oscar de la Renta's workshop in New York in 2013.
- 'Fashion has a short memory' -
Galliano's excommunication ended last year following a decision by Renzo Rosso, president of the OTB group that owns Maison Margiela, to bring him on board.
He was not an obvious choice for the house founded by the famously reclusive Belgian designer Martin Margiela.
"At Margiela, there has always been an appreciation of the mundane side of clothes, the little details that are usually ignored, the creases, the linings... whereas Galliano would exalt the splendour of the garment," fashion historian Lydia Kamitsis told AFP.
But she said there were common themes: "They have the same perspective in terms of technique, the appreciation of work done by hand, attention to detail, and the analysis of history."
Will Galliano's show herald a return of the designer?
"The fashion world has a very short memory -- it loves what it once hated, hates what it once loved, kills as much as it gives birth to -- it's a very cynical and very volatile world," Kamitsis said.
© 2015 AFP