One of fashion’s most controversial and creative talents, John Galliano fell from the highest echelons of the fashion establishment, as creative director of Dior in 2011, following his conviction for making anti-Semitic remarks while inebriated. Following his rehabilitation for alcohol and substance abuse, fashion closely anticipates his return to the industry.
In early 2013, Galliano accepted an invitation from Oscar de la Renta for a temporary residency at de la Renta's design studio for the A/W 2013 season. Galliano ended his first television interview since his convicton saying, "I am able to create. I am ready to create...[and] I hope through my atonement I'll be given a second chance."
After attending St. Anthony's School and Wilson's Grammar School in London, Galliano studied at Central Saint Martins, from which he graduated in 1988. His first collection, inspired by the French Revolution and entitled Les Incroyables, was bought in its entirety for sale in the London’s Browns boutique. Galliano quickly started his own fashion label and began work with long-term collaborator Amanda Harlech, at the time a fashion editor with Harper’s and Queen.
Following a number of false starts with regards to agreements with financial backers, Galliano relocated to Paris to put on his first show as part of Paris Fashion Week in 1989. By 1990, he was bankrupt, and with London offering little by way of relief, the designer permanently relocated to Paris.
Galliano’s inability to find a secure and permanent financial backer finally came to an end with the help of American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and André Leon Talley, then European Correspondent at Vanity Fair. Unable to pay to put on his show S/S in 1993, Talley asked socialite São Schlumberger to lend her 18th-century hôtel particulier for the show. Wintour and Talley arranged financing with the Paine Webber banking group. The collection that followed, dubbed Princess Lucretia, received rave reviews. The New Yorker reported Diane von Furstenberg called it “a watershed moment in modern fashion history.”
Bernard Arnault appointed Galliano as the head designer of Givenchy in 1995; the appointment made Galliano the first British designer to head a French haute couture house. In October 1996, LVMH moved Galliano to Dior. In 1997 the CFDA named him international designer of the year. He was named British Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Council Awards in 1987, 1994, 1995, 1997. The bias cut, the Nefertiti couture collection, the saddlebag – under Galliano, Dior would dominate fashion reporting thanks to the spectacle of his shows and the commerciality of his creations.
Following the publication of recordings of Galliano making anti-Semitic remarks, made in June and December 2010, Galliano was sentenced to pay a total of €6,000 (US$8,400) in suspended fines after a French court found him guilty of giving public insults on account of race, in September 2011. Galliano retired from the public in order to deal with the addiction problems.