John Galliano: "It's not the egg rolls, Harry. It's the last 10 years." So quipped the put-upon wife to her husband in an old New Yorker cartoon. In the increasingly listless marriage that is this industry's show system (retailers and press, wife; houses and organizing bodies, Harry), John Galliano caught the brunt of the missus' frustration. The irritation with which his audience left his show on Friday night had less to do with the hour-plus wait than with the last four weeks. Or is it six weeks, going back to couture? Or the endless treadmill of constantly looking at the next batch of clothes? (Next up, kids: Cruise, kicking off May 12.)
Galliano started out happily, with an invitation that beckoned guests to Xanadu. Though the trek was far enough to really get there, once inside, everyone reveled in the elaborately done venue, set up as an old-time movie set and populated appropriately — writer-director, various actors in costume, stagehands, and the like. But once people settled into their seats for what remained of the wait, the goodwill dissipated.
Typically, you can't help but get caught up in the fancy of a mega-Galliano production, the vamping girls, the frivolity, the joie de mode, especially when the clothes are strong, and these were delightful. Though they weren't for the most part new for Galliano, their playfulness, color and wit looked pretty darned fresh this season, and he did work a few novelties into the mix of gentle dresses, girly separates, glamorous furs and great coats. Case in point: a divine big blue sweater coat with crewel embroidery.
Yet, glancing at the crowd throughout the show, no one within sight cracked a smile. By the time it started, the mass adrenaline rush sparked by the set had vanished and people were too exhausted, perhaps even too uninterested, to be engaged by anything short of a transformative performance, which this was not. Thus, Galliano's considerable effort and execution fell flat.
Luckily, nobody's bad mood gets shipped to a store. But it should be noted that audience negativity (at least among Americans, who perhaps don't matter much these days, anyway) is reaching a crisis point. Fashion shows are supposed to create excitement. If retailers and editors don't get excited about the shows, and don't even try to fake it anymore, how are they supposed to excite consumers into spending those incredibly shrinking dollars?