FASHION // John Galliano joins Maison Martin Margiela as Creative Director

Monday, October 06, 2014

When I was a young girl I fell in love with this fashion visionary called John Galliano.

John Galliano was probably the reason why I've always been so obsessed with Central Saint Martin and it's probably the reason why I've enrolled there.


Today, after a few years of something similar to silence (excluding a couple of interviews and a partnership with Oscar de La Renta), John Galliano joins Maison Martin Margiela as Creative Director.

Happy Monday fashion people!


Here below what WWD says:



John Galliano Joins Maison Martin Margiela

PARIS — From pirate costumes to a lab coat: John Galliano, one of fashion's most romantic, theatrical and controversial designers, is to take over the creative direction of Maison Martin Margiela, WWD has learned.


An official announcement is expected later today.


It confirms widespread market speculation that Galliano was headed to the Paris-based fashion house and despite recent denials by Italian industrialist Renzo Rosso, whose group OTB controls Margiela via a subsidiary called Neuf.


"Margiela is ready for a new charismatic creative soul," said Rosso, president of OTB. "John Galliano is one of the greatest, undisputed talents of all time — a unique, exceptional couturier for a maison that always challenged and innovated the world of fashion. I look forward to his return to create that fashion dream that only he can create, and wish him to here find his new home."


Galliano, 53, has been sitting on fashion's sidelines since being ousted from Christian Dior and his signature fashion house in 2011. It is understood he will take over the design leadership of all Margiela lines, including couture and women's and men's ready-to-wear collections.


He is expected to show his first designs for the house in January during Paris Couture Week.


The development marks the return of one of contemporary fashion's most acclaimed talents, absent from the runways following racist and anti-Semitic outbursts that precipitated one of the most spectacular flameouts in recent history.


It also represents something of an about-face for Margiela, whose Belgian founder was often described as fashion's invisible man for his Greta Garbo-like ways. Following his retirement in 2009, the house left an anonymous team to carry on his legacy, steadfastly refusing to identify any its members.


Prized for his ultra-feminine, historically inspired designs, and a particular penchant for bias-cut gowns, Galliano is hardly an obvious choice for an avant-garde house known for cleft-toed boots, deconstructed fashions and all-white stores.


Yet the British fashion maverick has wide experience designing different kinds of collections, including more casual ranges for women and men under his now-defunct Galliano brand, known for its newspaper prints, distressed leathers and denim.


OTB noted the appointment of a "visionary, non-conformist" talent would give "significance to the iconoclastic heritage of Margiela, and new impulse to its exciting future."


The appointment of a star designer like Galliano also suggests that Rosso is keen to bring more attention to Margiela - and willing to risk a possible backlash by embracing a disgraced designer.


According to retailers, Margiela management has recently put the development focus on its secondary line MM6 in recent years as buzz faded around its top lines.


Rosso's OTB swept in and bought a majority stake in Margiela in 2002, one of series of acquisitions aimed at building a multi-brand Italian group. More recent investments include Viktor & Rolf and Marni. 


At the time of Margiela's 20th anniversary fashion show in Paris in 2009, the founder had gradually reduced his day-to-day involvement in the company, working mainly on special products, including the house's first fragrance, under license with beauty giant L'Oréal.


While long cloaked in mystery and steeped in conceptual high-mindedness, Margiela ultimately took on a more commercial bent following the Rosso investment, opening boutiques in more established neighborhoods, expanding its offer of accessories, and branching out into lifestyle categories such as home decor.


Upon Margiela's final exit, the company explored the possibility of naming a new creative director, with Raf Simons and Haider Ackermann among those approached. 


More recently the likes of former Celine designer Ivana Omazic had cycled in and out, with London-based Marios Schwab brought in recently as a secret consultant. Industry insiders were familiar with other key talents in the maison, particularly Christopher Booth in men's wear and Matthieu Blazy, who exited the house Oct. 1 after receiving kudos particularly for the Artisinal couture range, cobbled together with offbeat materials and vintage materials.


Rosso has never hidden his enthusiasm for Galliano, best known for a 15-year stint as couturier at Christian Dior.

"Who wouldn't like to work with him? If he ever got back his name, I would be the first to produce his collections," Rosso told WWD on Sept. 18, while also denying that he was joining Margiela.


Brave Kid Srl has produced children's collections for John Galliano since 2008, a licensing deal that sparked a friendship between the designer and Rosso. According to sources, Rosso was among top industry figures who embraced Galliano and assisted him during his rehabilitation.


Last year, Galliano took up a a three-week designer-in-residence role at Oscar de la Renta, and the designer's influence was very visible in de la Renta's subsequent fall 2013 collection.


It was a bold and risky move for de la Renta, who later was said to have engaged the controversial talent in advanced talks of permanent employment, which eventually disintegrated when Galliano pushed to bring his own staff with him.


Foreshadowing another return to fashion, Galliano appeared on French television last month saying he was in the midst of a return "back into creativity," citing his role as creative director for Russian perfumery chain L'Etoile and as a mentor to four male students at Central Saint Martins in London.


Following a series of drunken altercations that prompted his dismissal from Dior, the designer was charged with public insult, with a Paris court sentencing him to suspended fines totaling 6,000 euros, or $8,400. At his trial, Galliano blamed work-related stress and multiple addictions for his behavior.


He is embroiled in a labor case pitting him against his former employers, Christian Dior SA and John Galliano. 


It is understood the designer is seeking compensation in the range of 6 million euros, or $7.6 million at current exchange, for wrongful dismissal. A works tribunal is slated to begin hearings on the case on Nov. 4. 

However, sources said Galliano could be laying the groundwork for a possible rapprochement with Dior — seen as a possibility should the designer withdraw his ongoing labor suit against the company, as reported.

 Galliano recently extended an olive branch to Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, during his television appearance, saying, "I hope one day to be able to visit him, explain what happened."


A club kid from South London via Gibraltar, Galliano hit the international fashion radar immediately after graduating from Central Saint Martins. With his theatrical flair and inspirations of epic proportions, Galliano immediately became famous for his ultra-feminine gowns, innovative tailoring and a cheeky, streetwise edge.

 Commercial success didn't come as easily. Based in London early in his career, Galliano struggled throughout the Eighties and early Nineties, with a succession of backers. He had to close his business three times after they withdrew their financing because of slow sales growth. 

Still, his technical virtuosity and knack for making fashion headlines attracted the attention of Arnault, who tapped him in 1995 to succeed Hubert de Givenchy upon his retirement, moving the British designer to Dior a year later. "Mr. Arnault is a true visionary to put someone like myself in my position," Galliano told WWD in an interview in 2007. "Many houses have copied that since."

 At Dior, he succeeded a string of legendary design talents: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan and Gianfranco Ferré. 

Galliano quickly woke up the brand with his bravado, a broad spectrum of fashion expression and a soaring imagination.

 He characterized his shows around 1999 and 2000 as "rupture" moments for Dior, including the so-called "Matrix" couture collection that announced a tough-chic moment, and a hip-hop flavored, Lauryn Hill-inspired show that arrived at the onset of logo mania. He has also sent trailer park babes, bruised boxers and rockabilly types down Dior's ready-to-wear runway.

 His signature collections have been no less spectacular, from Bollywood beauties dusted in colored powders to a charming, oddball parade of childlike cardboard floats and clothes deliberately too big for the models.

 Later in his Dior career, Galliano churned out more ladylike and commercial rtw, and ratcheted up references to Dior icons, like the bar jacket, equestrian looks, English men's wear fabrics and the color gray.


Margiela's spring 2015 show, with Kanye West in the front row next to Rosso, melded sweet, pioneer styles like floral house dresses with edgier fare like nude bodysuits and oversized Willy Wonka sunglasses.


Margiela himself, one of the original Antwerp Six that put that small Belgian city on the map, could not immediately be reached for comment. According to sources, he has has recently poured creative energies into painting and other artistic pursuits.


OTB is also the parent of Diesel and the manufacturer Staff International. Last year, OTB's revenues totaled around $2 billion.




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