John Charles Galliano is a British fashion designer who is currently the creative director of Paris-based fashion house Maison Margiela. A much renowned name in the world of fashion, he has been the head designer of French fashion companies Givenchy and Christian Dior at different points in his career. Born in Gibraltar, he moved to England with his family when quite young. Shy and withdrawn, he initially faced problems in fitting in with children in the new country though he eventually adjusted well. Having developed an early interest in the arts, he went on to study at Saint Martin's School of Art from where he received a degree in Fashion Design. Highly creative and talented, he got his first taste of success soon after his graduation and it was not long before he opened his own fashion line. However, he lacked the acumen and skill required to successfully manage his business and was soon bankrupt. Determined to rebuild his career, he moved to Paris in search of financial backing which he eventually found. His career reached new heights when he was appointed as the designer of Givenchy and then at Dior. His career suffered a huge setback due to his anti-semitic comments in 2011 though he eventually managed to bounce back.
Childhood & Early Life
John Charles Galliano was born on 28 November 1960 in Gibraltar to a Gibraltarian father, Juan Galliano who worked as a plumber, and a Spanish mother, Anita. He has two sisters.
His family moved to England when John was six years old. His mother, a flamenco teacher, always dressed him in his best clothes even for running small errands. He was sometimes made fun of because of his outfits, but this habit of his mother’s also inculcated in him a sense of style and fashion.
He attended St. Anthony's School and Wilson's Grammar School in London following which he entered Saint Martin's School of Art in 1980. He graduated in 1984 with a first class honors degree in Fashion Design. His graduation collection, titled Les Incroyables, inspired by the French Revolution received positive reviews and was purchased by the owner of an exclusive London fashion boutique.
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Boosted by the sale of his graduation collection, he set up a studio in a warehouse in London’s East End and started his own fashion line in collaboration with Amanda Harlech, at that time stylist with Harpers and Queen, and Stephen Jones, a milliner.
Initially he found considerable success and was named British Fashion Council Designer of the Year in 1987. John Galliano however lacked business acumen and this, combined with his extravagant lifestyle and excessive love for nightlife led him to bankruptcy.
He moved to Paris in search of financial backing to resurrect his failing career. He was able to get the support of Paris-based Moroccan designer Faycal Amor and with his backing held his first show in 1989 as part of Paris Fashion Week. He went on to make his Paris catwalk debut in 1991 and was once again named the British Fashion Council Designer of the Year in 1994.
During this period he was able to establish connections with some prominent personalities such as American ‘Vogue’ editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and André Leon Talley, then European Correspondent at ‘Vanity Fair’. With their help, he met Portuguese socialite and fashion patron Sao Schlumberger who helped him gain financial backing.
Soon he was able to successfully re-establish himself as a prominent fashion designer and attracted the attention of Bernard Arnault, owner of luxury goods conglomerate Louis Vuitton Möet Hennessy (LVMH). Arnault appointed Galliano as the designer of Givenchy in 1995, making him the first British designer to head a French haute couture house.
LVMH moved Galliano to Christian Dior in October 1996, replacing Italian designer Gianfranco Ferré. At Dior he was much appreciated for his Haute Couture and ready-to-wear collections. His career soared over the ensuing years and he became one of the most sought after names in the international fashion industry.
Brash and outspoken, he landed himself in trouble in 2011 when he allegedly made racist insults in a Paris café. Since France has strong laws against expressing anti-Semitic ideas, he faced trial in Paris for allegedly "making racist comments to customers in a café" and was found guilty of making anti-Semitic remarks. This controversy proved costly for his career and he was dismissed by Dior.
However, he was able to make a successful comeback a few years later when he was appointed the creative director of Paris-based fashion house Maison Margiela in 2014. Galliano exhibited his first couture collection for Margiela during London Collections: Men, in January 2015.
John Galliano is best known for the bold and dramatic creations he presented at the couture show for Givenchy at the Stade de France, and the Haute Couture and ready-to-wear collections he designed for Dior. Some of Galliano's designs for Givenchy were licensed to Vogue Patterns.
Awards & Achievements
He was named the British Designer of the Year four times: 1987, 1994, 1995, and 1997. In 1997, he shared the award with Alexander McQueen.
He was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2001 for his services to the Fashion Industry as a fashion designer.
In 2009, he was awarded the French Legion of Honour. The medal was however withdrawn by decree by the French president François Hollande in 2012.
Personal Life & Legacy
He was once involved with fashion designer John Flett who he called his “soulmate”. Flett died in 1991. Currently John Galliano is in a relationship with style consultant Alexis Roche with whom he shares a home.
John Galliano has an estimated net worth of $32 million.