John Galliano: the brand's repackaging and the designer's tentative comeback

If as a fan of fashion you have been following the recent catwalk sashaying of Paris Fashion Week then we hope you enjoyed our recent round-up of some of the highlights here on the Shikkuu Guides blog. One designer name you may be unsurprised to see didn’t make the cut was John Galliano, but in fact John Galliano still shows during Paris Fashion Week – but the brand, not the man.

So what is the latest in the Galliano world following the designer’s much-publicised anti-Semitic rant in a Paris café in 2011 and subsequent firing from the house which owned his label, Christian Dior?

Well in the wake of John Galliano’s hugely controversial behaviour, all captured on film by horrified patrons in the bar, it came as no surprise that the designer was forced out of the John Galliano brand. Some did express surprise, however, that his name still appeared above the door (as it were) of the fashion house. Perhaps that was unwise, given that the Dior-owned ‘John Galliano’ without the eponymous man at the helm has indeed struggled in the past few years.

While the industry has widely respected the efforts of Bill Gaytten, Galliano’s right-hand man who stepped up to the plate following his dismissal, it seems up until now those efforts have fallen short. When the brand shows at Paris Fashion Week, for example, it’s impact is ‘negligible’ (according to the NY Times).

This may be about to change, thanks to what its chief executive, Dominique de Longevialle calls a ‘resurgence’, but which can be more accurately termed a repackaging of the brand. The John Galliano house of today and into the future promises a new visual identity and a more contemporary business strategy, some predicting it will see the merging of internal lines to embrace a lower price point, as seen at Marc Jacobs and Victoria Beckham.

Meanwhile, what of the man John Galliano? From a personal standpoint, after a long hiatus (only partially self-imposed one suspects), Galliano has tentatively stepped back into the limelight, citing a life-long battle with alcoholism as the reason behind his rant, rather than true anti-Semitic feelings. Whether such pronouncements are ever enough to forgive such behaviour in many people’s eyes is another matter. (Dior ambassador Natalie Portman stands by her comment at the time that she found his words ‘disgusting’.) Professionally, he has also made steps towards a comeback, with last year seeing his appointment as creative director at Maison Margiela.

Time will tell what the future holds for Galliano the brand and Galliano the man, but given that the two are now poles apart and both looking to separately redefine themselves, it begs the question why the brand continues to confuse the messaging by sticking to what is still seen as a controversial name.