Galliano Guilt, for his makeover & archive
I’m ashamed to admit it, part of me is glad that Galliano is back. I was shocked by my own secret joy on John Galliano being back. The love for his exuberant haute couture collections, impeccable tailoring, attention to detail, innovative translation of cultural references and incorporation of atypical beauty on runway shows is canceling this guilt.
It also had to do with the fact that lately fashion has gone dull and too accessible. Which is good for everyday man but not on the fashion fantasy we love to have. In a good doses we need the fantasy back.
John Galliano was drunk, intolerant and racist. I have a hard time letting this go. Yet the other side of the coin is that I love the beauty he created — even though it all came from his dark state of mind.
I asked my friend Dan (who is jewish and who works for a jewish non-profit): “Is it ok I’m glad he is back?”. He replied: “Did he apologized?”. I knotted yes. Dan replied: “Just let it go!”. There was something refreshing in his light approach to forgiveness. This forgiveness is something that I for sure have a hard time in fashion and in life. I have to emphasize that racist slurs should never be taken lightly.
Galliano’s come back has been progressive and strategically planned. He did an in-depth conversation with Charlie Rose last year. He was shy, measured and apologetic. His presentation was nothing like the grandiose fashion beast that will walk at the end of Dior shows dressed as a space cadet or as a flamenco dancer. He was dressed on a navy suit and a very natural make-up (none of the pirate eye-liner alla Johny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean).
He also tried to teach at Parsons. I’m sure the academics thought that he already did a lot of teaching: specifically in what not to do. Time and multiples attempts always help one find our true way. So Galliano has found one at the Maison Martin Margiela. He is skillful at makeovers and translating cultural reference. The goal of the Diesel Group is that he can re-energize MMM and its annual income – the truth is that Galliano, when at his best sells (ask LVMH Group).
John Galliano has gone a very serious makeover and he is the perfect match for his new role. He is quiet and now he has the task to embody the code of the disappeared (not dead) Martin Margiela (A Creative Ghost known for his work and lack of public persona — truly focused on the work). According to Dr. Brenda R. Weber, makeovers and shame are directly co-related and a critical part of our fashion cycles. How I understand it, is that the core metaphor in fashion: the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly needs the conduit of guilt and shame to set in motion the process of change.
I’m afraid of how unpredictable we can be as human beings. Part of me is afraid that Galliano will go into wild madness and disappoint us all again. Yet there he is talented and my hope is that he can re-structure his life and bring MMM back to life in a novel way. Can he be more like Charles Dicken’s Ebenezer Scrooge? It’s yet to be seen — but I hope so!
So now we have something NEW, the New John Galliano for MMM. Fashion for sure loves the new, the revamped and the remixed. I asked myself why did I feel guilty. I feel guilty because just like the Diesel Group wants to keep MMM alive and increase reveneau I also want something from John Galliano. In the traditional fashion paradigm you accept what is given from the top. Now I won’t settle for that. I want something back.
When I see Galliano’s old shows I start playing the mental game my mother taught me: Trying to guess his references and who these match up to in real life. John Galliano paraphrases and translates in his style so many cultural references and it is a delight to guess what those references are an who those can be mapped to in real life. In difference to Karl Lagerfeld he looks at uncelebrated cultures and create crafted magic through his designs. I guess what will be his redemption in my eyes, is if he will let me see his creative process and let me index and reveal his intrinsic fashion archives.
My poem to John Galliano:
John Galliano you hit me so hard
that even for a catholic, it was hard to let pass.
Everything will be fine
if you let me see your fashion archives.