When an invitation in the shape of an old-fashioned movie clapper arrived by mail, it was clear this was going to be one of John Galliano’s cinematic romps. The man is anything but subtle. The setting, a massive warehouse that could have doubled as a studio lot, was certainly cinematic. As if to underscore this, the skies suddenly clapped with theatrical thunder and let down a torrent—unfortunately it was not a special effect, just early fall in Paris. We all crushed against the barricades and covered our coifs. Carine Roitfeld nonchalantly leaned against a wall, her trench slung loosely over her shoulders like a movie star between takes, and I realized she really is the coolest person alive. But, alas, a group of rowdy Italians in town for the Fendi bash the night before instinctively went into football riot mode, pushing forward and stomping on the unsuspecting. And you thought the French were rude! Apparently, the Italian contingent may have also been strategic; word has it that Diesel has been eyeing the Galliano brand. Intriguing, to be sure, if it doesn’t force another designer retirement.
The show opened with Norma Desmond’s monologue from Sunset Boulevard (“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up”), which mutated into a mash-up of soundtracks, from Mulholland Drive to A Streetcar Named Desire. A spectral red carpet was projected over the runway by lasers (like I said, anything but subtle). On cue, the clothes revolved around a fallen screen siren dreaming of a triumphant comeback who pieces together red-carpet looks from bits of old gowns and nighties. These included tea dresses, chiffon beaded gowns and flirty skirts, as well as powdered make-up and wig caps. Though sometimes divine, there is something all too familiar and tragic about his choice of leading ladies: Norma Desmond, the loony fallen film star; Little Edie, the loony fallen wasp aristocrat; Blanche Dubois, the loony fallen Southern belle…you get the idea. Perhaps the biggest development were the sunglasses, premiering for spring and donned by every girl in the finale walk—definitely a must-watch sequel in the Galliano franchise.