Galliano and the Runway

Evans, Caroline. Fashion at the Edge: Spectacle, modernity, and deathliness. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2003.

-in the late 20th c. fashion looped back to earlier moments of modernity in specific formations, not because the moments of past and present were the same but because a visual link between them uncovered interesting things about the present that echoed the past.
-Fashion designers can elucidate these connections visually in a way that historians cannot do without falsifying history
-For designers, it is because through the liberties they can take that contemporary meaning can be constructed
-Historical references and examples, not a history of past of present but rather a method
-The method is a kind of historical scavenging


John Galliano
First couture collection for Givenchy January 1996
-20 feet up in the air, on top of an over-scaled pile of mattresses, two models in vaguely 18th c. dresses and wigs preened and coquetted in a Princess and the Pea scenario

First couture show for Dior January 1997
-Staged in a fake maison de couture: in the Grand Hotel in Paris, created a scaled-up facsimile of the original Dior showroom, including the famous staircase on which Cocteau and Dietrich had sat in the 1950s to watch Dior’s presentations

-Subsequent shows stages in suburban sports stadium transformed into a forest scene with 40 foot high spruce trees

-The Paris Opera converted into an English garden where fashion photographers were given straw hats on entry

-The Carousel du Louvre, the official venue for the Paris collections, made over as a Manhattan rooftop scene, complete with battered chimney stacks, designed by Jean-Luc Ardouin

In every case, his transformation of the space involved effacing its real characteristics in the interests of imposing his own fantasy vision on the space, weaving instant mythologies and creating something out of nothing.

13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London

Sir John Soane's Residence (and now museum). Gorgeous sections, detailed ornamentation inspired by the pieces he collected, attention to light, shadow, and texture.


Revised Outline

On Luxury

Emerging effects of a special article on its surroundings and how the design develops to purport this object, specifically through the channel of luxury goods.



a brief history on luxury & collection
-what makes things of high value (example: the tulip from 1634-1637)
-curation & containers (example: Sir John Soane’s residence)
-a curiosity cabinet, not an encyclopaedia
-criteria for haute couture

religion & luxury
-faith, transcendence, ecstacy, myth, sacrifice, ritual, community, identity
-luxury item as new ecclesiastical relic (church built around unique article)
-icons (the immaterial world created around the object)
-neo-neoclassical (D&G ad); christian louboutin 2010 campaign
-chanel and dior 2010 ad campaigns

the runway
-Carrousel de Louvre, Grand Palais, etc (plans, sections, elevs…)
-example: Fendi runway at the Great Wall
-the model and ratios, space

the store & packaging
a. window display, lighting
b. dimensions, ratios
c. s, m, l, xl (tag, bag, rack, shelf, boutique..)

the street
-blogs, paparazzi, fashion districts
-prey or junkie? (paparazzi & blogger culture) – social surroundings ….
-rich retail areas of world (ginza, rodeo, champselysee) – real estate & urban planning….

the synthesis
10 objects and the design of their ultimate displays based on the object itself
-materials, site, etc.
-technical and atmospheric qualities?????
-in an interesting way!!!!! HOW????!!??!!


the luxury list

luxury is hard to define because more often than not, money is not an indication, only a repercussion. the issues of quality, taste, and rarity all feed into its formalization. and of course, that is a large part of its allure. and a collection of items that exemplify luxury speaks to a certain aspect of cultural literacy, a litmus of aesthetic sense, a pulse on the proverbial. and at a time when attention and care to the individual object is rapidly decreasing, the importance of things in general seem to be on the exponential rise. so this list comes at an opportune time to reassess where the archetype of things mass-produced originate. but as this essentially must be a personal interpretation, this is by no means a conclusive list. nor is it ranking the finest of each category. it is basically a smattering of items that have embodied certain ideals of modern culture, without stating the over-obvious or over-saturated. the items listed are from the 19th to 20th century, as anything before become the realm of historical nostalgia and anything after has not withstood the test of time to formulate enough worth. (and although strongly suggested by Don to keep items under $100, this was nearly an impossible feat...)

1. entrée at Davé, Paris
2. one night at the Mercer Hotel, NYC/Chateau Marmont, LA/Hôtel Costes, Paris
3. Diana Vreeland era Harper's Bazaar & Vogue collection
4. Rashômon (1950), Akira Kurosawa
5. The Apple Macintosh (1984)
6. Juicy Salif (1990), Phillipe Starck
7. Moleskine Notebook (1998)
8. Elsa Schiaparelli anything
9. an "It" bag with a designer's name or initial that cannot be visible from a distance of 10 feet or further, nor one with high-knockoff potential/presence
10. vintage jewelry (no costume)
11. ticket stub from Goa, India
12. Veuve Clicquot champagne
13. One ounce jar of La Mer Face cream
14. the classic martini
15. C. Gilson silk bra, panties, chemise and robe set
16. a vintage straight razor
17. the right scent
18. a Helmut Newton print
19. Timor Desk Calendar (1967), Enzo Mari
20. Coco Chanel's cardigan suit
21. makeup by Pat McGrath
22. Christian Louboutin heels
23. Moka pot (1933) from Bialetti
24. The Polaroid Land Camera (1947)
25. Wassily Chair (1925), Marcel Breuer

(special thanks to Mike Lin & John Lee for their insights; also influenced by Nancy MacDonell's "In the Know")


simulacra of simulacra

William Gibson writes in "Pattern Recognition":

[the protagonist on the brand of Tommy Hilfiger]

"This stuff is simulacra of simulacra of simulacra. A diluted tincture of ralph lauren, who had himself diluted the glory days of Brooks Brothers, who themselves had stepped on the product of Jermyn Street and Savile Row, flavoring their ready-to-wear with liberal lashings of polo knit and regimental stripes. But Tommy surely is the null point, the black hole. there must be some Tommy Hilfiger event horizon, beyond which it is impossible to be more derivative, more removed from the source, more devoid of soul. Or so she hopes, and doesn't know, but suspects in her heart that this in fact is what accounts for his long ubiquity." (p17)