THE BEGINNING OF AN ERA..
Now, if only you’d know how long it took me to get my hands on this issue of American Vogue. Because this is not just another magazine issue. It’s kind of historical really, in more ways than one. This precise November 1988 issue saw Anna Wintour at the top of the masthead as editor-in-chief, a position she’s been holding for almost 25 years now. Not only does it celebrate her inaugural newest tenure, it also features for the very first time a model (Michaela Bercu) wearing jeans. With a Christian Lacroix Haute Couture jacket no less. Ms. Wintour had (probably, maybe) no idea at the time that she would launch the phenomenal trading down style or democratisation of fashion as luxury experts like to call it. A total departure from the close-up cover shots we were used to back then. Bercu was photographed by the great Peter Lindbergh in the most candid manner possible with an impeccable wardrobe edited by one my favourite fashion editors, Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, who was the publication’s fashion director at the time. This cover says it all to me: a future that was predicted so accurately. I love how Michaela is wearing the jacket so effortlessly; to me this ensemble is what defines my vision of ‘chic’: an unusual combination of items that brings a breath of fresh air, paired with an ever-laid back, confident attitude.
I’ve been adamant to get this issue because of its status (in my eyes at least). But thank God for Ebay. After several months of grueling research, I had finally found it. Maybe I paid for it a little more than I should have but it was well worth it. After all, this is where it all started…
I’ve been wanting to write a post about what had happened to John Galliano. For some reason, I feel very sensitive towards his situation, perhaps because of the great admiration and respect I have for his work. Yes. The words he uttered in that Parisian café were vile, but I have the distinct feeling that people are forgetting how the scene was set up. Why were these people filming him in the first place? Only because he was in a bad state? I will never understand why people like to bring other individuals down. The world reacting to it as a terrible tragedy is not at all comprehensible to me. HE WAS UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF SUBSTANCES. Why can’t people accept that we are all humans who make stupid mistakes?
Above all, John Galliano is an artist. The work he created while at the house of Christian Dior (as well as his own) are of a calibre that I think only appear once every few decades. I see him as a genius who was (still is) a master at bringing to life such powerful creativity. He is the king of theatrics and contributed immensely to the shaping of the house of Dior, as well as the Haute Couture scene. Doesn’t all that count?
But my anger and disappointment at his dismissal was pushed even further. While I was in Paris last Summer, I went to Versailles to see the much anticipated exibition ‘Le XVIIIe au goût du jour’, or ‘the 18th century set as today’s taste’. The exhibition focused on the enduring influence of France’s last queen Marie-Antoinette by showcasing pieces from 20th century designers, as well as pieces from the era. You saw the likes of Westwood, Mugler, Yamamoto, Lacroix, Gaultier et al. Among the dresses hung on the mannequins were several dresses by the house of Christian Dior. They happened to be my favourite, with some from the Haute Couture Fall 2004 collection. But as I approached to read the accompanying credit, I realised, with disbelief, that there was no mention of him. Just ‘Christian Dior’. No name succeeding ‘by’ the others had gotten: Givenchy by Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquière, Rochas by Olivier Theyskens, Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld. I just couldn’t believe how ruthless and cruel the media and industry were dismissing his talent and the work he did so easily. I am the first to object to any form of racism but even the people he worked closely with admitted that he sought influence and inspiration in all types of sources and backgrounds. So why are they still punishing him today? I’m thrilled that Kate Moss stood by her choice in asking him to do her wedding dress. He deserves it.