Russian Beauty Chain Hires John Galliano

The designer has been quietly working as a consultant on beauty projects with L’Etoile for the last few months.

L’Etoile’s home page in Russia.

John Galliano has stepped back into the spotlight — this time as a beauty guru.

This story first appeared in the May 15, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

His New York-based spokeswoman, Liz Rosenberg, confirmed at press time Wednesday that the fallen designer has been quietly working as a consultant on beauty projects with the Russian perfumery chain L’Etoile for the last few months. Details of projects are expected to begin emerging almost within days, Rosenberg said.

Galliano’s return to the spotlight was foreshadowed by the L’Etoile Web site, whose homepage had a faux newspaper headline blaring “John Is Back!”

Reports had been circulating in the market that he had joined the Russian chain as a creative director.

L’Etoile executives could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The perfumery chain is the largest in Russia, boasting 750 beauty stores that carry 150 prestige brands. The chain boasts an offering comprised of 10,000 fragrance and cosmetics products from labels including Christian Dior, Guerlain, Chanel, Givenchy, Sisley, Kenzo, Estée Lauder, Clarins and others. Within the world of beauty, the chain is dominant in the Russian market. According to one industry source, Dior does 50 percent of its total beauty volume in Russia at L’Etoile. The chain opened its first store in September 1997. Since June 2011, the chain has merchandised its own L’Etoile brand of makeup and accessories.

The chain has had brushes with notoriety in the past. In 2009, reports surfaced that industry leader L’Oréal had stopped shipping merchandise to the chain over a lack of payments. L’Oréal, at the time, had no comment.

Galliano has kept a relatively low profile ever since his temporary gig at Oscar de la Renta ended. In January 2013, Galliano returned to the fashion scene as de la Renta opened his studio to the designer for a three-week “residency.” Galliano also created costumes for Stephen Fry’s London production of “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

De la Renta and Galliano held discussions about the designer becoming a permanent part of the de la Renta organization, but those talks broke off months ago, sources said.

Galliano was dismissed as creative director at Christian Dior in March 2011 after 15 years following a series of public outbursts during which he uttered racist and anti-Semitic insults in a Paris café. He was also ousted from the fashion house that bears his name.

The designer has had other stints in the beauty industry during his career. He formerly worked on his namesake fragrance brand with licensee Perfume Holding. During his tenure at Dior, Galliano was credited with being instrumental or having a hand in a number of beauty initiatives for the house, among them the creation of the Addict franchise and the adoption of Charlize Theron as the successful face of J’adore. He also worked on color cosmetics concepts and special beauty items. Galliano also took part in the creation of a line of limited-edition fragrances for Dior, according to sources.