It's true: John Galliano will make his grand return to fashion at Maison Martin Margiela. Galliano is expected to oversee the creative direction of all Margiela lines, including couture and both women's and men's ready-to-wear collections. The designer is set to make his debut for the Paris-based design house at January haute couture shows.
Galliano, who is largely regarded as one of the most talented and theatrical designers of our time, got his big break when LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton's chairman Bernard Arnault appointed him head designer of Givenchy in 1995, succeeding Hubert de Givenchy himself and making Galliano the first British designer to head a French haute couture house. The following year, LVMH moved Galliano to Dior, a tenure that would last 15 years.
You may recall that Galliano, 53, was largely shunned from the fashion industry in 2011 (namely, his tenure at Christian Dior and his eponymous label) after a video of him making anti-Semitic remarks in a Parisian cafe was released. Following a trial, a Paris criminal court found him guilty of proffering anti-Semitic insults in public, an offense under French law, and the multi-million dollar legal proceedings between Galliano and Dior, which he filed for wrongful termination, are still underway.
Galliano's return comes on the heels of the latest bout of rumors of a comeback (and a stint at Oscar de la Renta some seasons ago), and represents something of an about-face for Margiela, whose Belgian founder remains one of the fashion industry's most illusive individuals, refusing to take bows, speak to the press, or have any photos taken of himself. Following his retirement in 2009, the house employed an anonymous team to carry on his legacy, refusing to identify any its members.
This is not to say that upon Margiela’s departure, the company did not explore the possibility of naming a new creative director. In fact, Raf Simons (who quite famously decided to pursue fashion, as opposed to industrial design, upon seeing Margiela's 1990 all white collection - which he attended with Walter Van Beirendonck) and Haider Ackermann were both approached for the position. More recently, the likes of Ivana Omazic, formerly of Celine, and London-based Marios Schwab who was brought in to consultant, were also considered.
In a bold move considering the under-the-radar style of Margiela, the house has confirmed the appointment. Renzo Rosso, whose company OTM controls the avant garde label, told WWD: "Margiela is ready for a new charismatic creative soul. John Galliano is one of the greatest, undisputed talents of all time — a unique, exceptional couturier for a maison that always challenged and innovated the world of fashion."