PARIS — Steven Robinson, the ebullient right hand of John Galliano for more than two decades, was found dead at his apartment here on Wednesday. He was 38.
Police have yet to indicate the cause of death, and funeral services are pending. Galliano, who had been vacationing, returned to Paris Thursday to mourn and pay tribute to a man intimates say was like a brother to him.
"Working with him has been the greatest adventure and privilege of my professional career. No one can, or will, ever replace him," Galliano said. "Steven has been my rock, my dearest friend and not someone that was meant to ever leave me. He was my family."
A beloved figure at Dior and the John Galliano fashion house, forever bobbing about excitedly in a colorful polo shirt, Robinson was as humble as he was hardworking.
One of Galliano's most trusted deputies as the head of both the Dior and Galliano studios, Robinson often made important decisions during the design process in Galliano's absence — but typically the two were inseparable.
"A big loss," said a rueful Sidney Toledano, Dior's chief executive officer. "He believed in John from the first minute to the last."
A British national, Robinson received a fashion diploma at the Epsom School of Art and Design, ending his studies with an internship sewing buttons for Galliano. He has been Galliano's chief collaborator, confidante and right hand ever since.
In a statement, the company described Robinson as "one of the greatest unsung talents of the modern fashion world, and his creativity knew no bounds.…He believed nothing was impossible in the quest for beauty and perfection."
Toledano noted that many employees were cutting vacations short to return to Paris to support Galliano and to attend services, which will likely be held after the Easter long weekend. Robinson is survived by his parents, a younger brother and his brother's children.
Toledano described Robinson as an exceptional talent. "He was a creative person, and also a kind of mastermind," he said. "He wanted things to be done right. He was excited by excellence."Like Galliano, Robinson thrust himself into his work wholeheartedly, and thrived on the creative process and the euphoria and glamour of fashion. He shunned the spotlight, and never sought attention.
"I would always want to congratulate him after a show, but I had to look for him," Toledano said. "He was really in the backstage. He was happy like that."
Galliano said Robinson was the "glue that kept all the magic together as he organized, managed and inspired the family. He inspired and lit up the studio on a daily basis, and we traveled from London to Paris to Givenchy to Dior to beyond our wildest dreams."
Friends and colleagues praised Robinson's talent, saying it was as boisterous as his jovial nature.
Amanda Harlech, Karl Lagerfeld's muse at Chanel who held a similar role at Dior with Galliano, said of Robinson: "Too young to die but too brilliant, too sensitive and too much of a visionary to ever fade. A real flame has been extinguished out of time."
"Steven was someone who was very kindhearted, generous and professional, someone who also was very intelligent," said hairstylist Julien D'Ys, who worked with Galliano and Robinson in the Nineties and, resumed the collaboration recently. "He had an amazing memory — he remembered everything. It was crazy."
"I have many great memories of Steven. He was such a funny guy. He made everything so pleasant," said hairstylist Orlando Pita. "[Galliano and his team] are such a great group, and Steven was such a big part of that. He is going to be very missed."
Makeup artist Pat McGrath said, "Steven was such a vibrant, generous person who made everyone around him laugh. His energy was boundless. Not only was he hardworking and gregarious, but he was incredibly creative and talented as well. He was an integral part of John's design team."
DJ Jeremy Healy called Robinson "the linchpin of the Galliano machine" and a man with a mischievous streak.
Healy recalled that once in New York, Harry Winston sent $5 million worth of diamonds "in a Jiffy bag to Steven with no security and we contemplated leaving the fashion business for a life on the run. He loved his work and everybody who worked with him loved him."— With contributions from Jennifer Weil and Katya Foreman
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