Not quite finished with the equestrian theme he explored for Dior’s couture, John Galliano picked up where he left off in January — deep in English riding country — this time with the words and lifestyle of 18th-century libertine poet John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester, in mind: “Since ’tis nature’s law to change, constancy alone is strange.” And since the true libertines were not just free-thinking, but free-loving as well, here Galliano ravished couture’s buttoned-up formality with a gorgeous, unencumbered sensuality.
All the traditional horsey trappings — cavalry jackets, waistcoats and jodhpurs done in gentlemen’s fabrics — still applied, particularly for day. But Galliano infused the proper attire with a savvy dose of London street irreverence, cutting tailored coats from brushed mohair in blown-out plaids, and low-slung slouchy riding pants, some with cropped legs, from tweeds and aged leather.
Throughout he layered in pretty, playful pieces, such as fur vests, delicate silk “Johnny Depp” blouses (so called because of Depp’s role as Wilmot in the 2004 film “The Libertine”), and a fantastic jumbo knit sweater coat, bowed and beribboned with blue silk, worn in romantic dishabille over a wisp of a silk dress. Those frothy beauties came long and short, most cut on the bias from sheer silks done in 18th-century-inspired florals and faded pinks and greens. Underneath was a tease of flimsy knickers, ruffled garters and thigh-high suede boots — sweet and a little nasty.
With that wicked spirit, Galliano fashioned ruffled dresses and a dramatic cape from leather in rich chocolate and burgundy. “Imagine the sound of a whip, out back with a stable boy,” he said with a smile the day before his show. It was fun, fetishistic and Galliano in top form.