Unraveling the Archive: Christian Dior, Spring 2000 Haute Couture
John Galliano is fashion’s flamboyant king of the 21st century: He destroyed
and rebuilt Christian Dior without shame or hesitation. Galliano presented his Clochards collection—meaning tramps—for the Spring/Summer 2000 haute couture season, taking inspiration from homeless people he would encounter on his morning run in Paris’s chic Bois de Boulogne. This collection caused a scandal amongst the French bourgeoisie beacause, at the time, LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault has already given Galliano almighty powers to modernise the house Christian Dior started in 1946. The designer subsequently defied all rules, orchestrating extravagant shows that put Dior back on the forefront of French fashion. Galliano proved that one could create sumptuous clothes from radically anything.
Galliano's Spring/Summer 2000 Couture collection featured dresses cut out of silk chiffon in the famous newspaper print. Models walked down the runway with empty whiskey bottles attached to their belts, safety pins, and other vagabond accessories such as corks, cheese graters, and cutlery. Clothes were worn inside-out and upside-down, ripped and mangled. Atop thier heads, models wore original 1950s Christian Dior hats that milliner Stephen Jones dismantled. Pat McGrath and Orlando Pita respectively created makeup and hairstyles that would enhance the initial message of the collection.
The whole enterprise took grunge to the next, borderline-offensive level. Critics and welfare advocates alike took offense from Galliano's Clochards collection, seeing it as an insensitive poke at poverty and homelessness. Galliano explained that his haute couture collection was intended to mock poverty: “I never wanted to make a spectacle of misery,” he declared in an official statement. He wanted to point out the condescendence of the wealthy: being elegant with clothes that would otherwise be considered filthy. And just like that, he cemented his status as Paris’s most audacious fashion designer.