John Galliano's dramatic finale at Dior

John Galliano’s dramatic finale at Dior

Narrative“The Last Parade” (2/6). The ultimate collection of great designers for the houses where they shone always has a special flavor. This week, the British fashion designer and the French brand, March 4, 2011.

Presentation of the fall-winter 2011-2012 ready-to-wear collection, March 4, 2011, in Paris.

It is quite rare that the fashion public is aware that what they are looking at is the latest demonstration of a couturier. Usually, the announcement of a departure falls after the final parade or else death suddenly comes to play the referees, mowing down a designer still in exercise (Azzedine Alaïa, Karl Lagerfeld, Alber Elbaz, Virgil Abloh…). However, on Friday March 4, 2011, at 2:30 p.m., the public knew it: they were preparing to attend the very last Dior fashion show of the John Galliano era, the one unveiling women’s ready-to-wear for the fall- winter 2011-2012.

“A gray and cold day”, remembers the American journalist Dana Thomas, who works among others for vogue and signed, in 2015, a saga-like investigation retracing the parallel trajectories of Galliano and Alexander McQueen (Gods and KingsPenguin Press, untranslated). “Rue de Varenne was closed to traffic, under police surveillance, and it felt like going to a funeral. »

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Inside the Rodin Museum, in fact, everything is black: the tent erected to host the show, the chairs, the uniform of the press officers… Bernard Arnault, the CEO of LVMH, a group which is coming for the first time in its history of exceeding 20 billion euros in turnover (results more than tripled, ten years later), did not make the trip. His children Antoine and Delphine show the head of the bad days.

Embarrassing preamble

Before the first silhouette steps onto the podium, Dior boss Sidney Toledano grabs a microphone. “The fact that the name of Dior could have been mixed up, through its designer, however brilliant he may be, with intolerable remarks, is very painful to us”, he declares, without ever pronouncing Galliano’s name or explaining the affair. In the silent room, everyone has in mind the anti-Semitic insanities uttered by the Englishman on several occasions at the Parisian café La Perle – remarks which earned him complaints from victims, on February 24 and 26, and the opening of a dismissal procedure, on 1er March, three days before this parade.

“Galliano marked his time with his flamboyance, his understanding of haute couture techniques, put to use in his overflowing imagination. However, there, it misses its usual frenzy: it is a vintage less embodied, as anesthetized. » Alexandre Samson, fashion historian

Galliano, who will say, during his trial, struggling with a “triple addiction, to alcohol, sleeping pills and Valium”, would have already gone to rehab in Arizona, whisper the guests. When the clothes arrived, “we saw that he hadn’t touched anything: it was a collection provided by the studio when he was struggling with his addictions”, believes Dana Thomas.

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