John Galliano’s Fall 1999 Dior Haute Couture Collection

It was one of fashion’s most famous turning points. After seasons of historicism and excess at Christian Dior, John Galliano gave us a comparatively subdued setup (save for the Versailles location) with urban warrior-inspired outfits that looked like something out of The Matrix.

Released on 12/18/2014

Credits

Starring: Tim Blanks

Music:
"#1 In Heaven" by MNDR
"Above the Storm" by The Hunts
"Blowin' Up" by Amaany
"Atlas" by Sydney Wayser

Transcript

00:01
Can we just stop the cameras for a minute?
00:03
Let John enjoy the cocktail.
00:05
(dance pop music)
00:18
This is throwback Thursdays and I'm Tim Blanks.
00:20
And today we're visiting one of fashion's most famous
00:23
turning points.
00:24
You may want to share it with your friends,
00:26
it may even turn you subscribing to the Style.com channel.
00:31
I'm talking about the haute couture show for Christian Dior.
00:34
For fall 1999, which went down in history
00:36
as John Galliano's Matrix collection.
00:39
When you hear that you assume it's going to be something
00:41
futuristic and dystopian which is why
00:44
it's really interesting to actually take a good long look
00:47
back at it because you realize there
00:48
was a lot more going on.
00:55
Fashion seems to thrive on novelty but it also loves
00:58
a lot of the same old same old.
01:00
And this was one moment when the same old seemed to get
01:04
a good kick in the butt.
01:06
The show really needs to be placed in the context
01:08
of Galliano's career but it was up until this point
01:10
he'd been creating these steadily escalating spectacles.
01:13
The clothes becoming more and more extravagant.
01:15
The sets becoming more and more extravagant
01:17
culminating in him filling an old steam train
01:20
full of supermodels, basically recreating the story
01:23
of Pocahontas, which I think struck people
01:26
at that time as too much.
01:29
So when we got an invitation to the new show at Versailles,
01:32
the assumption was it was going to be more of the same.
01:35
King Louis the 14th and Galliano for Dior
01:38
what could be better?
01:40
[Tim] But actually it couldn't have been
01:42
really farther from the truth on that one.
01:44
Instead of Galliano's usual maximal set,
01:47
it was a long silvery strand of catwalk
01:50
that looked a little bit like a waterbed.
01:52
And then when the models started coming out,
01:55
right away you were in a different place
01:57
from where Galliano had been.
01:58
I can see why people reference the Matrix
02:00
because it had that feel.
02:02
That sort of urban warrior feel, extraordinary
02:04
in a couture collection, remembering who the clientele
02:07
for these clothes was and how much they cost.
02:10
And I think people felt that this was Galliano
02:13
responding to people who had been criticizing him
02:15
for just going so over the top.
02:17
What was the running narrative on this collection?
02:20
New direction.
02:22
Things very different pattern cutting to things
02:24
that had gone before.
02:25
Of course, there were some things which are classic John.
02:28
Really trying to recapture an essence of London.
02:31
His hats inspired by 17th century Dutch paintings,
02:35
still lives, I like doing them.
02:39
[Tim] As the show wore on and it moved through these
02:41
very futuristic, asymmetrical, anarchic outfits,
02:46
the clothes did eventually sort of transmogrify
02:49
into a more traditional couture beauty.
02:52
The beauty that we were used to from Galliano
02:54
but then it would switch back again to this
02:56
very hard edged aggressive, almost Amazonian feel.
03:00
So we have Gisele, we have Shirley Mallman,
03:02
and a number of other women who were
03:04
just made to wear these clothes.
03:05
And they just stomped with their body paint
03:08
and their feathery headdresses.
03:09
These women looked like they
03:11
were ready for a kind of battle.
03:13
Entertaining.
03:14
I think Star Wars 5 could use some of those outfits.
03:18
It was a very very clever move on Galliano's part.
03:22
Because not only did he address the critics
03:24
but he did reposition Dior's couture for the new century.
03:28
He managed to straddle tradition
03:30
and bring in this sort of subversive element,
03:33
like this is what I was, this is what I will be.
03:37
That's why I think the show went down in history
03:40
as a real moment, when something new seemed to happen.
03:44
Carmen Kass coming down the catwalk at the end of the show
03:46
holding her big red parachute looked so formidable.
03:51
It was a grand finale in more ways than one.
03:53
(applause)
03:56
(electronic music)
04:07
Did that strike you as a great moment?
04:09
The books will tell you it was
04:11
but how does it stand up?
04:13
This is throwback Thursdays, I'm Tim Blanks.
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