Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt.
PARIS--When the lights dimmed inside the Couvent des Cordeliers in the heart of Paris’ university district, a shadow could be seen lurking towards the piano, covered with a large tan fox fur cashmere blanket. The shadow began playing a concerto while snow was dripping against the ray of a white spotlight at the end of the platform. From under the snow came an unshaven model wearing a dark grey washed leather coat with olive sleeves, a navy wool tweed coat, cotton shirt, and knit wool scarf each layered one upon another and belted at the waist. He also wore a charcoal wool twill pant, grey socks with open knit fringes and broken-in leather shoes. White snowflakes were scattered atop the model's black fox fur hat.
That was one version of the early twentieth century émigrés from Soviet Russia that John Galliano imagined and recreated for his fall show. Another look was a beefy charcoal wool coat with a fur lapel and gold trim worn by a Rasputin look-alike.
The collection was based on the life of the dashing ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, spanning from the revolution to his years of exile in London, as captured by the lens of photographer Irving Penn.
The faultless and detailed execution of each look representing different stages of Nureyev’s life is truly staggering--from the dance hall rehearsal outfits (black chunky hand knit cardigans and nude color tights) to the playboy (a black wool slim pocketed buttoned jacket and slim stretch pant tucked into thigh high black leather boots, topped off with a red fox tail hat.)
There was also Nureyev wearing a wool sleeveless jacket with a bright violet print silk shirt and a wine silk embroidered pull-on jacket, reflecting decadent moments from his times at Quai Voltaire, complete with a velvet turban.
For Mr. Galliano, fashion does not happen independent of culture, art and life. It’s common when watching any of his shows to be overwhelmed by the exhilarated theatrics as the designer brings to life a moment in history or culture on his runway. At this show in particular, the theatrics at times did a disservice to the actual clothes presented. But would you rather attend another mundane fashion show where nothing stimulate the senses, least of all the clothes?
Among the best items were the boxy washed black leather coats, the cable knitwear, a dropped shoulder coat with a boar tail collar, a slim grey flare wool coat, and a long wool double-breasted suit in a slim linear silhouette. Also outstanding was the off-white double-breasted pony coat with burnt holes etched into the skin.
But don’t let the history lesson cloud the acknowledgment that Mr. Galliano’s has a tremendous influence in menswear. The couture tailoring suits, some cut on the bias, from one of his shows based on the Jazz Age a few years back still resonates today. I can imagine street and casual wear firms and manufacturers already filling their drawings boards with sketches of knock offs from this show before the white powder dancer chalks were dusted off the runway. **Photos by Imaxtree.