‘Camping’ in Galliano: Catwalk report of Galliano’s 2003/ 2004 Winter Collection
Written in May 2020
With his feet in 2003 and his eyes on the future (possibly the Met in distant 2019), John Galliano wraps again an unparalleled catwalk show. This season the designer seems to have scavenged his library, found Susan Sontag and made a pop-up show out of Notes on Camp, as the collection encompasses everything the book defines.
If personified, this show would be a 1940s high society lady unwinding until she finds herself in lingerie, gradually feeling more confident with her sexuality and so, dressing back up, dreams of becoming a Hollywood star.
In the upbeat Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy world of Galliano there is an evident celebration of the 30s and 40s as well as of pin-up culture during the brief lingerie moment. The zeitgeist is transmitted not only through the design, but through the music and even in the cheeky Carmen Miranda reference in one of the looks. Light transparent fabrics meet chunky knitwear cover-ups while feathered textures, exaggerated frills and over-the-top draping are flaunted down the catwalk. Movement and volume are the key pieces of the collection.
Sharply tailored suits bursting through their seams with flourishes and pleats, increasingly gain fluidity and cling to the models bodies in shiny asymmetrical shapes of satin. Halter tops reminisce the 30s and the nude tones of the lingerie accent the sensuality of the moment. Cleavages become bigger and bolder and push-ups are unashamed - and so are patterns that contrast with the solid colors of the beginning of the show. Hats are lost in the Hollywood glamour and might I dare say a splash of the 80s is thrown in?
The unconventional shapes of the clothes, the ostentatious styling and the mannerism of the models are reassurance enough this is a Galliano catwalk.
The show is a performance. The models seem to be unaware they are walking down a real runway, emulating their 4-year-old selves exaggerating fashion walks in their bedrooms. Their eyes are penetrating, you unequivocally are locked in their gaze, in the outrageous makeup and pasted cartoon eyebrows and lashes, mischievously wondering when one is going to fall off.
Although the femininity of the clothing is undeniable, the faces might suggest quite the opposite. As if the models were men pretending to be woman, building up the theatricality of the moment. Might this have been the gender fluid nod from the early 2000s, announcing the age of drag?