Disgraced fashion designer John Galliano makes theatrical return

British designer makes his highly anticipated catwalk comeback for Maison Margiela

John Galliano, the disgraced British fashion designer who lost his position as head of Dior four years ago after a drunken anti-Semitic rant, made his highly-anticipated catwalk comeback yesterday in London with a debut collection for the French fashion house Maison Margiela.

Appointed by Italian jeans magnate Renzo Rossi , founder of Diesel, who in 2002 acquired the brand created by the reclusive Belgian designer, Galliano, 54, presented his "Artisanal" haute couture collection to 100 supporters and friends. They included Anna Wintour, editor of US Vogue, Christopher Bailey of Burberry, Kate Moss, Manolo Blahnik and others.

The show was at the finale of the London Menswear Collections rather than in Paris at the haute couture because Gibraltar-born Galliano grew up in London and trained at Central St Martins.

It was Galliano at his most flamboyant and feminine, showing his penchant for theatricality and drama, with blood-red pervading the whole collection.


Floor-length coats, though penitential in shape, could boldly parade the Oscar carpet while shorter versions with highly-worked bodices were unified with patent red tights and shoes.

Elsewhere a shapely zebra-print jacket topped a long red skirt while a cloud of brown chiffon floated over a textured black and white coat. A wisp of black feather was the only decor on sleek black tuxedo suits. The mixture of flounce and tailoring, a trademark of Galliano, also referenced Margiela’s signature deconstructed and conceptual approach to design.

In a final nod to Margiela known for his use of white, Galliano sent out the collection a second time as toiles in paper, calico and muslin with written instructions for seamstresses, a coup de théâtre that paid tribute to the handwork of the artisan women who labour in the workshops to make haute couture, a fitting conclusion in every sense.

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan is Irish Times Fashion Editor, a freelance feature writer and an author