Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt.
PARIS–The email invitation from the John Galliano’s office simply said that there would be a presentation between the hours of 5 and 6pm on Sunday afternoon at the posh Avenue Foch mansion. But fashion is always full of surprises, and upon arriving at said manor, the first floor along the corridors around the grand staircase was lined with café style tables and chairs. In the two main rooms were red velvet imperial style couches, marble statues, floral silk velvet cushions thrown here and there surrounded by potted flower plants, and several grand crystal chandeliers hanging low from the ceiling. Reduced in scale but not in temperament, Mr. Galliano would have been proud of the efforts his team has managed.
With just 20 looks, the show was brief and the clothes were superb with a soundtrack of Adele and Coldplay. When the glass door lightly swung open, Karlie Kloss slowly walked out wearing a charcoal houndstooth jacket with fringed trims, a sparkling tweed belt at the waist, a black wool skirt split at the front and inserted with a silk satin panel and a wool top hat. Ms. Kloss stopped, posed with her left hand on her hip, walked again, then stopped and arched her back when a photographer behind me called out “This way Karlie.” The intimate presentation recalled some of Mr. Galliano’s ground-breaking shows in the past, especially the one where Linda Evangelista wore a similar wool gingham hourglass skirt suit and posed in the same manner as Ms. Kloss.
The show starring Ms. Evangelista was among the first I ever attended as a magazine editor, along with the memorable October 2005 show where he employed a cast of obese, very tall, middle-aged, old age, and very short men and women alongside supermodels. It was a breathtaking moment that challenged fashion’s assumption of beauty and acceptance. Over the years, we all waited to see what the Galliano show invitations would look like–I remember a decorated navy wool silk shirt sleeve with show details written on the inside–and then we would prance around the set upon arriving at each venue, hoping to predict the mood and idea of the collection we were about to see.
But let’s get back to the fall clothes for a quick moment. A grey tweed flare coat over a lace and satin striped skirt, a boat neck double-breasted jacket with gathered sleeves and a black goat hair long skirt, and a purple chiffon short dress paired witha black latex trench were among the standouts of this very wearable collection. Then there were the classic Galliano slim dresses: a pink stripe embroidered with patchwork; a purple tulle with rectangular fabrics sewn on to create an origami pattern; a deep purple print with folds falling from the hips. To end it all was a light pink one-shoulder dress that when the model turned around was held together by dark pink silk ribbon tied into a bow. It was nothing short of the masterful craftsmanship and tailoring for which Mr. Galliano is known.
Whatever will happen in the near future and how this drama will play out, it would be surely and unduly sad if there is not a small place in the vast land of fashion where a niche designer brand (which is what I sense Galliano will become) can exist to bring the world a little bit beyond mere clothes. As I walked by the set of velvet furniture and table decorations piled upon each other on the way out of the show, I noticed several playing cards thrown randomly among the cushions and pots of flower. One of the cards, an Ace of Heart, had landed on top of an oriental carpet.