John Galliano bounds into a suite at the Mercer Hotel, an astrakhan coolie hat creating a halo of glam froth atop an expertly aged fur-trimmed trench. With a flourish he casts the coat aside revealing a fashionably shrunken woolen take on an army jacket, herringbone culottes and ribbed tights.
In New York for a series of events around the opening of the just-renovated Dior flagship on 57th Street, Galliano is in fine humor, instantly professing love for New York. Over the next hour he engages in ebullient conversation that is both thoughtful and as entertaining as anything Joan Collins might stage at Feinstein’s. In addition to addressing the professional topic du jour, the beautifully redone store, he will discuss his own creative process, anoint a mysterious Brit designer a rising star and argue quite convincingly that the best birthday parties happen in London.
John Galliano: I love being here!
WWD: Why do you love being here?
J.G.: I love the energy, the fast pace. I find it really inspiring. New York is no shrinking violet, so you can see we have a lot in common. I love all those things and tearing around New York. I’ve got great friends here. I actually come more often than I let people know. I stay under the radar.
WWD: How many times do you come a year?
J.G.: Quite a few times. I work with Steven Meisel on the campaigns for Dior. I was here a month ago. I was doing research for Galliano, for the women’s wear line that will be shown in 2012. But I stay under the radar because we cover a lot of ground and we’re seeing different dealers, clothing dealers. A lot of them now are further and further afield — before you would find a lot of them in the center. Now you sort of have to go out.
WWD: To Brooklyn? Where else do you go?
J.G.: Oh, all over, all over. But it’s worth it because when you get there, you’re really focused and they look after you. And they know you’re there because you’re serious so they pull out all the great stuff.
WWD: What are your favorite places to go? Every design student will make a beeline.
J.G.: Oh, I’m not giving my dealers’ names. The Metropolitan. We always make a stop at the Met, at the Library, catch up with Harold [Koda] and Andrew [Bolton], see some great art. It’s always really enriching to see that, and the kids on my design staff are quite young and they may have never seen a Boldini. So it’s always enriching. When you come out you’re sort of flying, it’s wonderful.
WWD: Are you going to go this trip?
J.G.: I’m going to try. I’m only here for five days. I really shouldn’t be here at all. Well I’m in the middle of haute couture and working on the men’s wear. But we had a great meeting yesterday in the room. I got all my men’s wear stuff on the walls and the haute couture’s on the side and then we’re on the phone. It doesn’t matter where you are now because of all this kind of machinery.