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The Dress That Changed My Life

Linda Evangelista recalls the dress that she’ll never forget.

Harper’s Bazaar US November 2017 Issue. By Linda Evangelista, on 23 October 2017

I wore this John Galliano dress on the January 1995 cover of Harper’s Bazaar. The cover was shot by Patrick Demarchelier at his studio in New York, and we pretty much replicated the look from the Galliano show in Paris but without the veil. At the time I was modeling full-time, living between L.A. and New York, and traveling a lot to Europe, so it was hectic. But I loved my life—loved it. I absolutely adored my job, and I’ve always said that it’s a dream to do what I do for a living. I don’t remember that much from back then; everything is fuzzy. The best person to speak to about those days is Naomi [Campbell]. She remembers everything right down to the detail. Call her.

But I do remember the fitting for the Galliano show. When I saw this dress on the rack being wheeled in, I started hyperventilating. Early on I learned not to have any expectations, as you don’t always get the best dress or the best look in the show. And you don’t always get to open or close the show, so closing was an honor. I couldn’t have imagined a more beautiful dress. I’m not even a yellow person, but wearing this was one of the most sensational things that has ever happened to me. I loved everything about it. It was sophisticated, it was flirty, it was fun. It was retro, it was modern. I do love a full-on gown where you get to see the ankle. It had every element for me. I also loved the show and the energy. It was a very exciting moment in fashion, and the audience was just as excited. I didn’t know it was going to be like that, but when I walked out and felt that energy it was magical.          

It was so nice when Bazaar asked me to do the cover, as I did feel like this was my dress. I would’ve been sad to see someone else wearing it. I see girls now, if they go to Disneyland or at Halloween, they want to be a princess or dress as the fairy-tale movie heroine of the moment; for me, this was like, “Oh, my God, this is a fairy-tale dress, and I get to wear it on the cover of and take it to the next level.”

Before this dress I had never owned any couture. Karl [Lagerfeld] had given me some Chanel things, but I never had a couture gown. John gave it to me. I don’t remember exactly how it went down, but it was shipped to me. The thing took up a lot of square footage. It was tremendous, and I never knew where to put it, so it ended up in my bedroom on a mannequin. But it made me so happy because every morning when I woke up, the first thing I saw was this joyful, sunshiny-yellow dress. I had it for years, and then it started to look like maybe it was too fragile to be exposed. I thought, “Okay, I’m going to box it up,” and then I thought, “What am I going to do with it?” So I gave it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’ll find its show one day.

That’s the thing about John—he goes full-on, full force, and I find his vision entertaining. I always look forward to discovering whatever trip he’s on. He always has a story for you. When you go to your fitting, he explains to you who you are, where you’ve been, and how you’ve ended up where you are wearing this dress.

I remember this cover shoot being the easiest shoot in the world. Whenever I was told, “You’re shooting with Patrick,” I would always be like, “Yes!” I can’t imagine a more pleasant, fun, and wonderful environment to be in for work. He doesn’t have to do much because he’s Patrick. He doesn’t torture you. It’s not a struggle. Sometimes one has to go through a lot of pain to get their photos, but Patrick just makes everything easy.

But then I’ve always adored fashion. I don’t have a favorite; I love it all, from beautiful gowns to vintage dresses to men’s suits and androgynous stuff. And I love super-feminine pieces. But I don’t have as many clothes as one might imagine, as I wear my things more than once. I don’t wear them as a photo opportunity; I don’t wear them for my followers. I wear them because that’s how I dress in life.

What I love most about fashion, especially when it comes to a heavenly gown like this one, is that it can touch you emotionally and transport you back to a place in time. It means so much more than just something on a hanger.

John Galliano on That Dress

The iconic Linda Evangelista is the muse for all seasons. She closed the show in this dress, one of my favorite moments ever. She owned it, she slayed it, and I have since been told it was a “fashion moment”—my first! This collection was inspired by the exotic exploits of Misia Sert [the Russian-born pianist and close friend of Coco Chanel who held lavish parties at her Paris salon at the height of the Roaring ’20s], and as Linda carved her way through the crowds, no one else existed. Jaws dropped. The audience looked on in awe, but they could only dream. Linda commanded her space like no other. The creative process spontaneously kicked in as it always does with Evangelista. She was in character, melting onto a rusty soldier’s unmade bed surrounded by salty sailors from an imaginary port, and there you have it, the image, captured forever for all to see. The feathers on the bustier were hand-dyed to match the early-morning dew on buttercups, a golden glow only she can work, and she did. Her freshly peroxided hair was a platinum memory of a bygone glamour. Linda, a dear and caring friend, owns this dress. She slept with it at the end of her bed, and I cannot begin to tell you what this means to me.

Taken from Harpersbazaar.com

Photograph by Patrick Demarchelier