Back in 1984, now-infamous British designer John Galliano was a relative newcomer to the world of fashion. A student of Central St Martins, London, Galliano first grabbed the attention of fashion critics and fans alike with his iconic graduate collection, entitled Les Incroyables.
Despite being in the heart of the UK capital, the designer looked to French history for inspiration, referencing the rebellious and triumphant attitude of the French Revolution – themes that would later define his signature style. Eccentric, theatrical and romantic in equal measures, the line quickly earned him a First Class Honours degree.
What happened in the 24 hours following the show can only be referred to as remarkable. His whole collection was instantly snapped up by show attendee Joan Burstein, finding itself pride of place in the window of her esteemed designer boutique Browns the next morning. Overnight, Galliano had been transformed from fashion student to hot new thing.
Despite his instant success, his designs were not crafted from the finest of materials. Being a student, Galliano used whatever he could get his hands on, including furnishing fabrics as “not only did that fit the character, it was cheaper”, he told James Anderson in 2013.
His approach to enlisting models was also as cut-and-stitch – Galliano called upon friends such as Camilla Nickerson, now a legendary stylist, and Barry Kamen, now a model and stylist, along with several other pals from London’s club scene of the time to walk in his creations.
However, Galliano’s small budget and shoestring resources did not hold him it back. It took only one collection to take John Galliano from aspiring designer to household name. He may have been plagued with scandals in recent years, departing in disgrace the helm of his eponymous label, but his impact and contribution to the British fashion industry will remain part of history for generations to come.