PARIS — Could the house founded by fashion’s invisible man make way for one of the industry’s most flamboyant characters?
Speculation that John Galliano might join the Maison Martin Margiela and take over its couture has been dominating front-row conversation at the Paris shows, despite a denial of that scenario by Margiela owner Renzo Rosso, made to WWD during Milan Fashion Week earlier this month.
The denial came even as a vacancy opened up at a brand known for deconstruction, cleft-toed boots and the Belgian founder’s Greta Garbo ways. Sources indicated that Matthieu Blazy, the designer responsible for Margiela’s couture line, dubbed Artisanal, is leaving the company Wednesday.
The maison declined all comment, reiterating its policy that it never communicates on any individuals working at the company.
That might change were it to welcome a towering — and controversial — talent like Galliano into the fold.
Rosso does not hide his enthusiasm for the British fashion maverick, best known for a 15-year stint as couturier at Christian Dior.
“Who wouldn’t like to work with him? If he ever got back his name, I would be the first to produce his collections,” Rosso told WWD — a quote picked up by various other media. Rosso controls Staff International, the Italian clothing manufacturer, plus Brave Kid Srl, which produces children’s collections for brands including John Galliano.
Galliano was dismissed from Dior in March 2011 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.
At his trial on charges of public insult in June 2011, Galliano blamed work-related stress and multiple addictions for his behavior.
Meanwhile, sources said Galliano is laying the groundwork for a possible rapprochement with Dior — seen as a possibility should the designer withdraw his ongoing labor suit against the company.
It is understood Galliano is seeking compensation in the range of 6 million euros, or $7.6 million at current exchange, for wrongful dismissal. A works tribunal is slated to begin hearings on the case on Nov. 4.
Galliano recently extended an olive branch to Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, during a television interview, saying he hopes to make amends. “I’m hopeful. I hope one day to be able to visit him, explain what happened,” Galliano told television channel Canal Plus’ lunchtime news program “Le Supplément.”
On the same program, as reported, the designer said he was in the midst of a return “back into creativity,” citing his role as creative director for Russian perfumery chain L’Etoile.
He reiterated that he was not a racist or an anti-Semite and attributed his comments to “a defense mechanism” that he blamed on childhood trauma.
“I can’t convince everyone, and I know some people will never forgive me. I understand that. I have taken physical steps to approach people that I have upset, to apologize. That’s part of my recovery,” he said.