It takes a lot of chutzpah to be John Galliano, especially today. Where does his luscious, extravagant romance sit in a season dedicated once more to stripping back? How to reconcile his trademark catwalk histrionics with the overarching mood? Galliano decided to take a bold, brave leap. He changed nothing. He did exactly as he pleased. And it was the high point of the season.
Galliano's anti-heroine for spring was Maria Lani, a twenties Parisian con-woman who posed as an actress and managed to convince the leading artists of the twentieth century to create portraits of her, for a film that never existed. All terribly interesting - everyone was busy googling her while waiting for the show to begin - but in actual fact, that theme was a con in itself, a great excuse for Galliano to do what Galliano does best: play-acting on a grand scale, dressing his models as characters, coaxing them to emote on the catwalk, and trawling through the history-books for a magpie edit of the best of fabulous fashions past.
How to describe the clothes themselves? One word: succulent. There was something mouthwatering about each and every one of them, each themed around an individual portrait of Lani but bearing the unmistakable hallmark of Galliano. That hallmark is lightness, a deftness of touch, a love of fabric and of women. It's impossible to describe the litany of dazzling techniques and unique characters that populated Galliano's catwalk - it was vaguely twenties, lots of frothed tulle embroidered with feathers, twinkling beads and fringe. There was hot colour, dazzling and masterful - imagine leaves of cerise, satsuma-orange, Agean turquoise and eau-de-nil effortless whipped up into a dress as light as croquembouche, or maybe scattered in a vague Chinoiserie print across a chiffon kimono. Add fabulously arcane travelling accessories like a tulle-stuffed crocodile suitcase or an empty baroque picture-frame, and top it off with Stephen Jones' witty caricatures of cloche-hats, towers of tulle and feathers wrapped around the head.
The fact that vivid colour and those eastern touches chime with the season's key themes for next season was neither here nor there. This was all Galliano, he was thinking of no-one but himself. Equally, it didn't really matter that there were gorgeous dresses women would fight to wear, or that Galliano threw in some witty pieces of tailoring and sportswear in buttery-leather that would filter down effortlessly to any retail floor. For once, in the great grand scheme of the season, this was fashion purely for fashion's sake, an utter and total celebration of individuality of customer, of model, and ultimately of Galliano himself, and that wild, epoch-defining imagination of his. At the end, Monsieur Galliano emerged in an explosion of gold confetti as the crowd stamped their feet and roared their approval. John Galliano ignored his better judgement, went with his gut and showed exactly what he damn well wanted to. Coincidentally, it was also exactly what we needed to see. Bravo.