Buro 24/7 Interview: John Galliano
Back, and in the business of beauty
When Buro 24/7 meet with John Galliano in Moscow, we arrive with a heavy heart... All the issues you would expect us to ask the fashion legend have been banned. This is strictly beauty only.
Unsurprisingly, we did not know what to expect from the question session. Included within the 'off limits' topics were how the designer, who had previously symbolised an entire era in fashion, has spent his life since being disgraced and dismissed as Creative Director of Christian Dior in 2011. The 53-year-old designer has made some effort to re-enter the fashion industry since, with various short-term projects and collaborations. He co-designed a collection with Oscar de la Renta in 2013, and acted as fashion editor for a British Vogue shoot starring Kate Moss. Galliano's new assignment with Russian beauty chain, L'Etoile, is said to be the biggest contract he's scored since his Dior times
And so on arrival to the Hotel Ukraine – where Galliano is currently staying during his time in the city – we are really just hoping that notoriously fiery man himself is in a good mood.
Thankfully, he is. In fact, being face-to-face with the designer is a refreshing surprise. He is graceful and smiling, his long hair around his shoulders and dark suit over a naked top half.
Galliano asks for a coca cola, lights a cigarette – telling our photographer to not shoot him whilst smoking as to "not set a bad example!" and continues to check the following shots for his own peace of mind throughout, leaving no doubt that this is a man still in control of his own show... And so we begin.
We don't know anything about your collaboration with L'Etoile. Tell us how came about...
Recently representatives of the company contacted me, and when I heard its story, I was moved and inspired by the founder Maxim Klimov, his views and way of thinking, the idea of making luxury items available to the general public. That's why I'm here today. I was invited to create 12 covers for the company's own magazine, and it is very cool that we have worked with amazing photographers, models, make-up artists in a variety of locations around the world.
I will work hard and on the line of cosmetics for L'Etoile, too. I will create a young, dazzling image, inspired by my kind of girls. I really like the idea of multifunctional products that can be used in different areas of the face, such as gloss can be applied to cheeks, eyelids, lips, creating glare. I think it's great when a product can be applied by just your fingertips when you're on the road. I won't say, "when driving" – that is dangerous!
As for the eveningwear line up, I named it after the White Nights – inspiration from here, Russia, and of course, St. Petersburg. It will concentrate on a play of pigments. I love intense accents in evening make-up – a dramatic look or bright lips. I like the idea that a colour can also applied to the fingernails, and the effect will be as if you ate a lot of strawberries and drank a lot of red, remaining on the lips in a sensual way. I would also like to see recycled materials used in the packaging, but we are working on this.
Was it difficult to move from fashion to beauty?
No, not at all! My last post was also closely associated with make-up and perfume. I created the images for the campaigns, shot them and participated in the development of upscale fragrances for the brand, which of course occupied a leading position in the industry. I feel comfortable in the beauty world. I love coming up with images, and combining them with beautiful clothes. I hope to learn the technical side of the production of cosmetics too, working with those who create innovation.
Before this project had you thought about creating your own cosmetics line?
Yeah, I did. However, I have been a little busy. But I've learned a lot along the way, on set with masters such as Steven Meisel and Peter Lindbergh. If you participate in the process, you learn, and you see how the make-up artists apply things and use their tools. And now this is what I want to do.
How has your previous experience helped you? At Dior you worked closely with Pat McGrath on beauty, yes?
Yes Pat and I have very long-term relationship. I worked with her in the same way as any other member of my team, be it stylists, shoemakers – anyone. Every time we're all together we create a story that was the result of my inspiration. And inspiration can be paintings, modern art, a lot of things. I create an imaginary 'muse'. Then I make a scrapbook with lots of pictures, detailing who she is. Does she love to sit by candlelight? What scents she likes? I create a whole character. And then I show the book to experts like Pat. She then conducts her own investigation, comes back to me, and shares all the ideas, all the details. I would perhaps then tell her, "the make-up should be brighter," She likes it, and comes up with new ideas. She is awesome. Such a talent!
It's really a great time – always inventing stories. For men, too. For example, 'he worked in the desert, and it certainly affected the hue of his skin', so we decide that you want to add golden tones to his look. This on-going dialogue, I am very grateful to have worked with such amazing people.
"I left the fashion industry for three years, it was time to restore"
You first joined the Russian fashion market in 1997, when John Galliano launched in Moscow. Why did you decide to draw attention back to the country?
I left the fashion industry for three years, it was time to restore. I have been allowed a spectacular amount of time to explore myself. I stopped to figure out who I am and what I want to do next, and I am so grateful that I had this time. The opportunity to work with L'Etoile appeared just at the moment when I felt ready to express myself again, to return to the industry. I wanted to present myself in a new way. It was really only a matter of time, and I felt that now would be a good start to this, and here I am. It just happened to be in Russia, and it is fate. I'm learning all about your fashion market, I've tried to study and understand the modern Russian woman, because now they are quite different compared to the time when I first visited here!
How are you going to use your design talent for L'Etoile?
I will offer ideas for packaging – I to do collages. They could be a great background. I have created a logo with images to be 'winged' in shape... This would be very similar to the Galliano brand.
And as for the products inside? Will you participate in the development of formulas?
We will start working on the line, step by step, and I have some ideas about what how the texture of products should be. I am sure we will work with the best technology in the world. I have an idea about how the products should feel on the skin. I think that modern technology will allow us to achieve the desired result, and to get something new. And of course the packaging, and product quality is very important to me.
Tell us about the covers of E'toile's magazine covers. We understand you have already prepared 12? Or are more in the process of creation?
We are continuing to work on them. On one of the images shot with Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott in New York features a model and me. In Paris we were shooting with Luigi & Daniele + Iango. We also shot in London, too. We have attracted professionals that I have worked with for a long time... And they are very respected in the world of beauty.
"Creating an image, I love it. I suppose I am happy to 'reunite' with the world"
Who would you choose as the ideal face for your cosmetics?
She is a definite muse for you...
I met Kate when she was 14 years old. Now she is a woman, but in her eyes there is sensitivity, vulnerability, softness. True beauty. In terms of an advertising campaign, it would look awesome!
Are you planning to personally use the cosmetics you will create?
Let's see what happens. This is not my personal line of make-up, I do it for L'Etoile, but it certainly will imprint my personality. They will be made with care and that is very important for me. People who know beauty should change their habits and skin care regularly, and try new tricks and return to what works. That's how it is for me personally anyway. For example, is not very good to use the same shampoo constantly, you want to pick something new, because hair reacts differently to different products.
I like the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. I love going to the gym, cardio. I'm interested in macrobiotics – a hot trend. Like different products, such as cleaning with different textures (cream, soap). Toners, moisturising gel for the skin around the eyes, daily sunscreen products – I use it all. In the evening, I cleanse my skin and choose to avoid anything oily in texture.
And this year, I discovered a new procedure - acupuncture for the face. It's amazing! The skin becomes radiant and supple, I highly recommend it. It's especially good after flights. And the most important tip? Keep out of the sun. I know we all know this, but in Europe I still see young girls who go to the beach and roast themselves in the sun without protecting their skin. It's painful to watch.
How do you see your future in the industry? Would you like to continue working in beauty?
Yes, of course!
The news of your appointment at L'Etoile read: "John has returned." How important is it that you are thought of as 'back'?
I feel that in fact, I never really left. I just concentrated on my health. Now I feel ready to start business again.
But the conditions now are quite different. Previously, I created 32 various collections a year, it was a crazy pace! I am happy that now I can choose what to do and enjoy it. That's why I am doing this – I want to enjoy work. Creating an image, I love it. I suppose I am happy to 'reunite' with the world.
And will there be other announcements to this?
Yes, there will be other projects... Gradually.