Thursday, 15 January 2015

How to feel about Galliano now?

I've put this post off for a couple of days as I wasn't really sure how I felt and I wanted to give myself time to think about it. But I did want to discuss Galliano's Margiela return and what I made of it. As kids we're told to forgive and forget - to move on and not hold grudges. Kids' movies are often sprinkled with messages about how we should give people second chances. Redemption is a theme all over every medium known to man.

But is this really true of adult life? Are there some things that are just unforgivable? I would argue that there are. Yet. is it even our place to choose whether or not to forgive people we do not know and will probably never meet?

It's not my place to judge the failings of others, their lapses in judgement. We merely have to trust that the structures around us (ideally) will deal with these indiscretions and make the legal judgement calls for us all. But I often struggle with these issues when it comes to artists or creators. Can you separate art and artist? Can you enjoy the work of someone who has done things you morally object to? My normal way of rationalising this is to consider how much of a fan of their work I am. If I find I can easily live without it, I do so and give the matter no further consideration. Otherwise I consider if their behaviours that I disagree with are continued, if they have apologised and if I am putting money directly into the pockets of a terrible person.

In the case of Galliano, I tried to judge how I felt objectively about his return to fashion. I tried to make sure I wasn't merely being wooed by his talent and forgetting everything I stood for. Of course, my liking his collection for Margiela (which I did) isn't going to impact him financially as a person as I won't be buying anything from it and that's not really the point of couture anyway. But, my having a voice (no matter how small) on the internet will have some teeny bit of an impact and I wanted to use it lucidly and fairly. Galliano has been missed - a rare and wonderful thing in fashion. To be so creative and impactful that your absence is noted is not something many can truly boast in the industry. The excitement his billing added to the season is not to be underestimated when so much of fashion is hype or ennui. To label him a genius is probably not to over-exaggerate. That he has apologised for the infamous incident that led to his disappearance for the past few years must also be considered and that he has returned to fashion with work firmly in mind and theatrics of old left behind. Much as we might miss that aspect of his shows - this just all seems so very respectful, if not remorseful.

Then there's the collection itself. The collision of two such big names. Two names that seem incompatible of paper. And yet, the garments speak for themselves. There's that whimsy and sense of romance of a different era that we've missed, made into a slightly different beast - more modern, sharper. You sigh at the beauty while also thinking, "Damn, that's a nice blazer. I could wear that". Wearable whimsy. Something closer to the lost art of couture that Cardin spoke of. That the pieces remind me of a fairytale with coiling, roiling beasts, jesters, warriors, witches and royalty present endear them to me further. There's something akin to storytelling present. I almost didn't want to like this collection but I cannot help it - I'm utterly enamoured. That Galliano can be so true to himself and his new house is no mean feat and that he is the first named designer for Margiela since the departure of its namesake says something. It speaks to his skill, his long servitude of fashion and the value still connected to his name.

So, where does that leave me? Somewhat conflicted still but unwilling to fight my love for what I see. Encouraged by how it was handled. Wanting to believe in second chances.

And dying to step into that fairytale on the runway.

(Images via

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