PARIS, France — John Galliano will join Maison Martin Margiela as creative director, the brand’s owner, Renzo Rosso’s Only The Brave (OTB) group, has officially confirmed. The announcement follows weeks of market speculation that the appointment was imminent.
Galliano will oversee the design of all Margiela lines, including couture and women’s ready-to-wear. He will debut his first designs for the house during Paris Couture Week in January.
“Margiela is ready for a new charismatic creative soul,” said Renzo Rosso, president of OTB, in a statement. “John Galliano is one of the greatest, undisputed talents of all time. A unique, exceptional couturier for a Maison that always challenged and innovated the world of fashion. I look forward to his return to create that fashion dream that only he can create, and wish him to here find his new home.”
The appointment is a surprising choice for Margiela, whose Belgian founder was known as fashion’s invisible man. Galliano, on the other hand, is renowned for his showmanship and the appointment suggests that Rosso has big plans for the Margiela brand.
Galliano's career has seen him head some of fashion's most prestigious houses, as well as suffer one of the industry's most spectacular falls from grace. After graduating in 1984 from Central Saint Martins, the Gibraltar-born designer launched his own label, which entered bankruptcy in 1990 and prompted the designer's move to Paris.
His big break came when LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault appointed him head designer of Givenchy in 1995, succeeding Hubert de Givenchy and making Galliano the first British designer to head a French haute couture house. The following year, LVMH moved Galliano to Dior, where he earned a reputation as a creative genius and attracted attention for his ability to marry spectacular shows with commercially successful designs, such as the house’s iconic saddlebag.
While at Dior, in 1997, the designer was named international designer of the year by the CFDA. He was named British Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards in 1987, 1994, 1995 and 1997.
Following his departure from Dior and rehabilitation for alcohol and substance abuse, Galliano accepted an invitation from Oscar de la Renta to take up a temporary residency at his design studio in the run up to the brand's Autumn/Winter 2013 show.
In June 2013, in his first television interview since his rehabilitation, Galliano stated, "I am able to create. I am ready to create... [and] I hope through my atonement I'll be given a second chance." His comments sparked immediate speculation about when he would re-enter the fashion industry and with which brand.
That speculation ends today with an announcement that marks the beginning of a new chapter in the career of one of fashion’s most celebrated — and troubled — creative minds.