Byline: Eric Wilson
NEW YORK — “It’s in the air,” said John Galliano, referring, of course, to love.
As summer-like weather finally descended upon Manhattan, so did Galliano, who arrived here Saturday to prepare his first New York fashion show. His mind has been on romance, and his audience can expect to get a taste of Galliano’s mass love tonight at the Metropolitan Club, which the Dior designer said he has transformed into the home of legendary lover Casanova for the occasion.
“It starts with the invitation,” Galliano said Monday at the Christian Dior showroom here. “I’ve included a little ring. It’s an engagement ring, along with a little love note from Casanova. It’s an invitation to his house, where you will see him in various guises, with each of his lovers.”
The ring arrived in a claret satin pouch, along with this missive: “Carry me off into the blue skies of tender loves, wrap me in dark clouds, trample me with thunder. Love is ours forever.”
Beyond that tease, the designer was reluctant to reveal much more of the theater in store for his first New York show. As for the romantic entanglements, Galliano said he was inspired by the subject of what will be shown — his first licensed collection of fur outerwear.
Manolo Blahnik has created shoes just for him; Stephen Jones has designed the accessories. Stephane Marais is in charge of hair, and Bureau Betak was hired to stage the production. Madonna is among those rumored to have confirmed they will attend, but Galliano said it would be “indiscreet” to discuss such things.
But yes, there will be scantily clad boys. How else to show episodes from the life of the 18th-century libertine?
“They won’t be wearing fur much, the boys,” Galliano said, flirtatiously. “I don’t think Casanova did wear very much at all. He was the world’s greatest lover.”
Romance — more specifically, what to wear when romancing — has been Galliano’s calling card since taking over the reins of the Dior collections and moving his ready-to-wear line from London to Paris. Tonight, he plans to show New York his European style on the Upper East Side.
Galliano said he chose to show the collection in the Metropolitan Club because, with its ancient grand marble staircase that leads to a library and gilded anterooms upstairs, all reeking of weathered luxuriousness, it was the perfect place to recreate Casanova’s home.
“It’s romantic, and I’m trying to give the furs a more romantic edge as opposed to ‘I’m rich.’ They are for engagements and weddings, or as a present from your lover,” he said. The collection, which is manufactured by Stallion Furs here, is made up of featherweight coats in urban silhouettes and evening pieces, some beaded jackets with fur trim, some inspired by looks from the 17th century, some in pure simple shapes and others taken from an oriental perspective. Galliano also has thrown in a preview of upcoming rtw looks that were designed specifically for this show.
“There’s something quite discreet about them for a person of my generation who would want a fur coat,” Galliano said. “There are even a couple of pieces I wouldn’t mind wearing.”