AN ENGLISHMAN IN PARIS: A new coffee table book focuses on John Galliano’s creations for Dior, from the midnight blue satin slip dress that Princess Diana wore to the 1996 Met Gala to a canary yellow tulle dress from his last haute couture collection for the French fashion house in 2011, inspired by illustrator René Gruau.
The 448-page tome, published by Assouline, is the fifth volume in the series that Dior is releasing chronicling each creative director of the brand. Written by Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu curator in charge of The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it features photographs by Laziz Hamani alongside images by the likes of Richard Avedon, Peter Lindbergh and Paolo Roversi.
“It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of John’s work, especially his work at Dior, which we’ve been actively collecting over the years,” Bolton said in a statement provided to WWD.
“[Christian] Dior and John share so many similarities — they’re both diehard romantics and inspired storytellers, they both have a deep respect of history, and they both appreciate and understand the creative possibilities of the haute couture,” he said.
“John’s genius was extending and expanding the aesthetic language of Dior through novel transfigurations, and aligning his fashions with the spirit of the times. His work at Dior epitomizes the fantasy and escapism of the 1990s and early 2000s. In fact, if he hadn’t already existed, history would have had to invent him,” Bolton added.
Galliano’s appointment sent shockwaves through the fashion industry, with many upset that a British designer with no couture experience should be handed the reins of one of France’s most storied brands.
From 1997 to 2011, he marked fashion history with extravagant collections inspired by everything from the Maasai people to the Ancient Egyptians, conjuring muses including Marlene Dietrich and the Marchesa Casati. He also became known for his theatrical bows, wearing costumes including a matador’s outfit and a space suit.
“The project was incredibly meaningful for me, as John and The Met have a long history together,” said Bolton. “During his time at Dior, John would often visit the museum for inspiration, and over the years we’ve included so many of his haute couture creations in our exhibitions. In fact, if you were to count the amount of pieces we’ve shown, they would be the equivalent of a one-person exhibition.”
The British designer holds a complex place in the history of Dior: celebrated during his 15-year tenure for his irreverent reinvention of the brand founded by Christian Dior, he was ousted in 2011 after uttering racist and anti-Semitic insults at a Paris café following a series of drunken altercations.
Galliano subsequently sought treatment for his addictions and returned to fashion in 2014 as creative director of Maison Margiela. Dior acknowledged his contribution to the maison by including his work in its blockbuster 70th-anniversary exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in 2017.
“Dior John Galliano 1997-2011,” available in English or French, will be available for pre-order from Jan. 11, ahead of its official release on Feb. 15, a spokeswoman for the house said.