World-famous couturier John Galliano revealed the inner workings of his creative process and why he feels more “free” and “open” in a rare live interview with The Business of Fashion’s editor-at-large Tim Blanks on stage at VOICES, BoF’s annual gathering for big thinkers, in partnership with QIC Global Real Estate.
Galliano explained how he develops Maison Margiela’s couture-like Artisanal collection, which then informs the direction he and his team take with the maison’s prêt-à-porter line. “It’s really important to have the Artisanal line. Where would the world be without the essence? We need the essence, only then can we exploit that for ready-to-wear and accessories,” he said.
The designer wore a white lab coat in homage to the founder of the house, Martin Margiela, in keeping with tradition for employees of his namesake company, quipping: “We all look like mad scientists, or doctors, or runaways from a mental home.” Asked if he felt innately compatible with the experimental approach of Mr. Margiela, Galliano replied, “yes,” but added: “I’m not there just to curate Martin Margiela. I understand the psychology of Martin Margiela and use that for pushing things forward.”
Galliano also revealed how he feels more free and open in his new role. “I feel much freer in this equation, my points of inspiration are much freer. I’m more open now. I leave things a bit more open. I’m more comfortable with chaos,” he said. “The industry hasn’t changed — the shows, the deadlines, production — but my perspective has changed. I can go home relatively early and actually think about what I’ve done.”
“You try to find a balance,” he continued. “I wanted to work more on my own terms. It’s not as bad as it used to be — that was exhausting.” Critically, Galliano now helms a much smaller studio than he once did in his days at the megabrand Christian Dior, and said how much he enjoys working with both a more intimate team and younger people, including what he called “Instagram babes,” some of whom have become his muses.
Indeed, the wide-ranging conversation, titled “Creativity in the Digital Age,” also covered Galliano’s relationship with social platforms including Instagram and Snapchat, and the future direction of Maison Margiela. “I’m much more in touch with the real world today,” said Galliano, citing his love for Snapchat, as well as the power of digital ‘glitches’ to introduce happy accidents into the design process. “Imperfection opens many more avenues to travel down.”
On the future direction of Margiela, Galliano said: “I’m not yet in my full stride in Maison Margiela. But I’m more in the moment, doing the best that I can and leaving options open. It’s done with joy, it’s done with passion.”