John Charles Galliano CBE, RDI (born 1960) is a Gibraltar-born British fashion designer who was the head designer of French fashion companies Givenchy (July 1995 to October 1996), Christian Dior (October 1996 to March 2011), and his own label John Galliano (1988 to 2011). At present, Galliano is the creative director of Paris-based fashion house Maison Margiela.
Galliano has been named British Designer of the Year four times. In a 2004 poll for the BBC, he was named the fifth most influential person in British culture.
He was born in Gibraltar to a Gibraltarian father, Juan Galliano, and a Spanish mother, Anita, and has two sisters. Galliano's father was a plumber. His family moved to England in pursuit of work when Galliano was six, and settled in Streatham, South London, before moving to Dulwich and later to Brockley. He was raised in a strict Roman Catholic family. Galliano, who was shy and diffident, often spoke of his struggle to fit in. Recalling his early days, he once admitted: "I don't think people here understood where I was coming from." His mother, a flamenco teacher, would dress him in his "smartest" outfit even for a trip to the local shops. His attire, combined with his creative sensibilities, caused him frequent persecution at the London boys' grammar school he attended.
After attending St. Anthony's School and Wilson's Grammar School in London, Galliano went on to study at Saint Martin's School of Art, from which he graduated in 1984 with a first class honours degree in Fashion Design. His first collection was inspired by the French Revolution and entitled Les Incroyables. The collection received positive reviews and was bought in its entirety for resale in the London fashion boutique Browns. Galliano then started his own fashion label alongside long-term collaborators Amanda Harlech, at that time stylist with Harpers and Queen, and Stephen Jones, a milliner.
On the back of this success, Galliano rented studio space in London, but his talent was not matched by a head for business. Moreover, he would take his enjoyment of London's nightlife to extremes. Initially, financial backing came from Johan Brun, and when this agreement came to an end, Danish entrepreneur Peder Bertelsen, owner of firm Aguecheek, who were also backing Katharine Hamnett at the time, took over. This agreement ended in 1988 and by 1990, he was bankrupt and, after his own London-based label failed to re-ignite his fortunes, he moved to Paris in search of financial backing and a strong client base. . Galliano secured the backing of Paris-based Moroccan designer Faycal Amor (owner and creative director of fashion label Plein Sud) who invited him to set up his base in Paris at the Plein Sud headquarters. His first show was in 1989 as part of Paris Fashion Week.
Media fashion celebrity Susannah Constantine has worked for Galliano, and he has also aided the future success of other designers including shoe designer Patrick Cox. In 1991, he collaborated with Kylie Minogue, designing the costumes for her Let's Get to It Tour.
In 1993, Galliano's financial agreement with Amor ended and he did not have a showing in October, missing the season. With the help of American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and André Leon Talley, then European Correspondent at Vanity Fair, Galliano was introduced to Portuguese socialite and fashion patron Sao Schlumberger and financial backers of venture firm Arbela Inc, John Bult and Mark Rice. It was through this partnership that Galliano received the financial backing and high society stamp needed to give him credibility in Paris. This collection was important in the development of Galliano as a fashion house, and is regarded as a 'fashion moment' in high fashion circles.
In July 1995, he was appointed as the designer of Givenchy by Bernard Arnault, owner of luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, thus becoming the first British designer to head a French haute couture house. On 21 January 1996, Galliano presented his first couture show at the helm of Givenchy at the Stade de France. The collection received high praise within the fashion media. Some of Galliano's designs for Givenchy were licensed to Vogue Patterns. He was later replaced by Alexander McQueen.
In October 1996, LVMH moved Galliano to Christian Dior, replacing Italian designer Gianfranco Ferré. At Dior, Galliano received critical acclaim for his Haute Couture and ready-to-wear collections.
In 2010, Galliano identified his love of theatre and femininity as central to his creations; he said "my role is to seduce", and credited Standard Oil heiress Millicent Rogers as an influence.
On 25 February 2011, Dior announced they had suspended Galliano following his arrest over an alleged anti-Jewish tirade in a Paris bar. The same day, Paris-based citizen journalism site Citizenside received video of Galliano on a similar rant in the same bar the previous December. In the video a drunk Galliano, seated at a café table, insults a group of Italian women and declares "I love Hitler... People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers would all be fucking gassed." This incident happened just before the Paris Fashion Week for Autumn/Winter 2011-12.
The show-business industry expressed mixed feelings towards the designer's anti-semitic speech Natalie Portman who had an endorsement contract with Dior, said she was "deeply shocked" by Galliano's comments and that "these still-existing prejudices... are the opposite of all that is beautiful.". On the other hand, another model for Dior, French actress Eva Green, said of the incident: "Sometimes, you can make mistakes. I don't think he's anti-semitic. I'm Jewish. I don't think he has anything against the Jews. I think it's more that he was probably a bit drunk."
Galliano denied the allegations through his lawyer, and launched a defamation lawsuit against the couple accusing him of antisemitism. On 1 March 2011, Dior announced that it had begun procedures of dismissal for Galliano, with Dior's chief executive Sidney Toledano stating, "I very firmly condemn what was said by John Galliano". Dior announced it will continue to support the Galliano brand financially due to licence despite the scandal, and Bill Gaytten would replace John Galliano as creative director at the helm of Dior and the Galliano brand.
In France, expressing anti-semitic ideas is illegal. It was reported on 2 March 2011 that Galliano was to face trial in Paris for allegedly "making racist comments to customers in a café". The trial commenced on 22 June 2011. Galliano's lawyer argued that the "series of public outbursts during which he uttered racist and anti-Semitic insults in a Paris café" were the result of "work-related stress and multiple addictions." On 8 September 2011, Galliano was found guilty of making anti-Semitic remarks and sentenced to pay a total of €6,000 in suspended fines after a French court found him guilty of voicing public insults on account of race.
Subsequent legal action
A Paris commercial court, in March 2011, rejected a claim for damages by Galliano’s company, Cheyenne Freedom, "following the termination of its consultancy agreements with Christian Dior Couture SA". The court ordered Cheyenne Freedom to pay Dior €1.17 million "for hurting the company’s image and reputation".
On 21 November 2013, the Paris Court of Appeals rejected an appeal by Christian Dior Couture SA, which was seeking to move the case to a commercial court from the Conseil de prud’hommes (Labour Court) and ordered Christian Dior Couture SA and John Galliano SA to each pay the Galliano €2,500 and court costs. Galliano "is seeking compensation in the range of 6 million euros". Jean Néret of Jeantet Associés is representing Christian Dior Couture SA and John Galliano SA. Chantal Giraud-van Gaver of Coblence & Associés represents John Galliano.
In early 2013, Galliano accepted an invitation from Oscar de la Renta, brokered by Anna Wintour, for a temporary residency at de la Renta's design studio to help prepare for a showing of his Fall 2013 ready-to-wear collection during February New York Fashion Week. Galliano also received a measure of absolution from the Anti-Defamation League, which lauded his efforts to atone for his misdeeds and wished him well. The ADL again came to his defense after the New York Post ran a photo of him on his way to the de la Renta show dressed in what it claimed was Hasidic-like garb. Galliano remained backstage at the show, which received favourable reviews amid speculation about his future, including as a possible successor to Mr. de la Renta and that Galliano may take up a teaching post at Parsons The New School for Design. On 12 June 2013, John Galliano's first filmed interview since his dismissal from Christian Dior was broadcast on United States television. He closed this conversation by stating "I am able to create. I am ready to create...[and] I hope through my atonement I'll be given a second chance."
On 6 October 2014, the OTB Group announced that John Galliano joined Maison Margiela to take the responsibility of the creative direction of the house, marking the designer’s return to fashion. Just a few weeks later, on the occasion of the annual British Fashion Awards, Galliano presented the Outstanding Achievement Award to Anna Wintour who wore Galliano’s first creation for Maison Martin Margiela, "an unambiguous fashion blessing" from the Editor in Chief of American Vogue according to Vanessa Friedman, Fashion Director of the New York Times.
Galliano exhibited his first couture collection for Margiela during London Collections: Men, on 12 January 2015.
- British Designer of the Year (1987, 1994, 1995, 1997). In 1997, he shared the award with Alexander McQueen, his successor at Givenchy.
- Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2001 Birthday Honours List for his services to the Fashion Industry as a Fashion Designer. He received his CBE on 27 November 2001 at Buckingham Palace in London, England.
- RDI for his contribution to the fashion industry (2002).
- Appearance on The Independent on Sunday's 2007 "pink list" for being one of "the most influential gay people in Britain."
- French Legion of Honour (2009). The medal was withdrawn by decree of the president of the Republic, François Hollande, published in the official journal on 20 August 2012.
- "Supplement No. 1, (Queen's Birthday Honours)". London Gazette. 16 June 2001. p. 24 of 50. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
John Charles Galliano, Fashion Designer. For services to the fashion industry.
- "Home > News > UK > This Britain The pink list 2007: The IoS annual celebration of the great and the gay". The Independent on Sunday. London. 6 May 2007. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- Bumpus, Jessica (5 January 2009). "Galliano Honoured". Vogue. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
- [Le HuffPost/AFP] (24 August 2012). John Galliano privé de Légion d'honneur après ses propos antisémites. Le Huffington Post/Le Monde. Accessed January 2014.
In interviews, Galliano has given his full name as Juan Carlos Antonio Galliano-Guillén. He had a relationship with fellow Central St Martins student and fashion designer John Flett (1963-1991), who Galliano described as his "soulmate". Galliano currently shares his Paris home with his long-term partner Alexis Roche, a style consultant.