John Galliano

Born: Gibraltar, U.K., 1960

John Galliano arrives at ‘Cinema Against AIDS 2005’, at Le Moulin de Mougins at the 58th Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2005 in Cannes, France

Originally growing up in Gibraltar, John Galliano moved with his family to London in 1966.  After attending Wilson’s Grammar School for Boys, Galliano went on to study textiles at City and East London College.  After securing a place at Central Saint Martins, Galliano flourished. His graduation collection in 1984 was entitled ‘Les Incroyables’ and featured in Vogue’s column ‘Spy’. Describing Galliano as a ‘modish costumier, with a preference for romanticism and androgyny’, Browns also noticed his talent displaying his whole graduation line in their windows.

With a first class degree and a growing reputation Galliano launched his own label in 1984 and two years later obtained  financial backing from Peder Bertelson.

In 1988 and again in 1994 Galliano was named British Designer of the Year. However, Galliano had to endure struggling times. Losing his financial backers, he was unable to show for several seasons.

With his financial circumstances dictating a new direction, Galliano bought out a diffusion line, Galliano’s Girl in 1991. This was followed by another cheaper line, Galliano Genes.

Galliano moved to Paris out of frustration in 1994, but still suffered financial difficulties almost having to declare bankruptcy on several occasions. However, the fashion community did help. Critics and editors found work for him and models including Kate Moss would model for him for free.

In July 1995, after months of speculation, Galliano was appointed the successor to Hubert de Givenchy as Head of the French couture house, Galliano made history as the first British designer to be appointed as the head of an established house.

Immersing himself in the house of Givenchy, Galliano presented his first couture show at the beginning of 1996. He impressed not only the critics, but LVMH, the business who owned Givenchy. Galliano was transferred to Christian Dior less than two years later and appointed design director. He replaced Gianfranco Ferré, debuting his first collection in 1997.

Galliano remained successfully at Dior until 2011 when a video emerged of him making anti-Semitic remarks. After being suspended from Dior, he was dismissed from the company in March 2011.

Regardless of recent negative press, John Galliano is known for his romantic style. Constantly reinventing, he is in love with fabric. Receiving constant critical acclaim, Galliano has the ability to make old themes and styles contemporary.

Galliano’s former assistant was appointed creative director for the fashion house.

Galliano’s antisemitic outburst garnered mixed reactions from the show-business industry. Natalie Portman, who had an endorsement contract with Dior, expressed deep shock and disapproval, distancing herself from Galliano’s remarks due to their offensive nature. On the other hand, some, like French model and actress Eva Green, believed that the outburst was a mistake and that Galliano was not inherently antisemitic.

In response to the allegations, Galliano denied the accusations through his lawyer and filed a defamation lawsuit against the couple who accused him of antisemitism. However, Dior proceeded with his dismissal, appointing Bill Gaytten as the new creative director for Dior and the Galliano brand.

Galliano faced legal consequences in France, where expressing antisemitic ideas is illegal. He was brought to trial in June 2011, and on September 8, 2011, he was found guilty of making antisemitic remarks. As a result, he was sentenced to pay a total of €6,000 in suspended fines. The incident led to his two-year exile from the fashion industry, during which he expressed remorse and sought redemption through various statements and actions.

In early 2013, Galliano’s redemption process began when he accepted an invitation from Oscar de la Renta for a temporary residency at de la Renta’s design studio. This opportunity allowed Galliano to present his Fall 2013 ready-to-wear collection during New York Fashion Week. Subsequently, he joined Maison Margiela in 2014 as the creative director, marking his return to a leading role in luxury fashion. Throughout his career, Galliano’s talent and controversies have elicited both support and criticism from various quarters in the fashion world and beyond.

John Galliano Biography

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Written by Saxony Dudbridge

Saxony Dudbridge was one of the first contributors to the Catwalk Yourself project, Saxony studies International Fashion Marketing and she is responsible for our great History and Designers Biographies sections.

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