Opening up a copy of High Fashion from the 2000s on the table and turning to the pages with the collection looks, Taguchi says, “at the time it was said that the Paris Fashion Week was entering an era of conservatism and stagnation, but looking back at it again now, that was an outrageous thing to say.”

“Yves Saint Laurent had Stefano Pilati, Givenchy had Riccardo Tisci, and Lanvin had Alber Elbaz, all presenting their own modes. Louis Vuitton by Marc Jacobs showed its true value too. There was Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Haider Ackermann, Rick Owens, and Alexander McQueen. I think you could call it a golden age in fashion and creation.”

Taguchi went through several seasons' worth of "High Fashion" and stopped at one collection page where many brands and designers’ names were listed side by side and continued to say, “Galliano has been working with Christian Dior and his own label, John Galliano, and presenting six collections a year. He was part of the golden age.”

“In March 2005, with the relaunch of High Fashion in mind, I spent more than two weeks visiting both Milan and Paris Prêt-a-Porter (Fall/Winter 2005). At the shows, I took minimal notes and continued to observe the clothes, models, and spaces intently. My job is different from a reporter who is writing a collection summary, so it is important for me to watch carefully in order not to miss any precious moments and to burn what I see into my memory. I do this because it is directly related to what I create in the pages for High Fashion. When I left Milan, it was in the middle of the Paris Fashion Week. In the car ride on the way to my next show, the subtitle "Past is New: Modes that explores the past” came to mind for the October issue featuring the fall/winter collection. This sentence was mainly inspired by the collections from Alexander McQueen, Yves Saint Laurent by Stefano Pilati, and two collections by John Galliano.”

In the special feature written by Taguchi it said, “the encounter between a creator and an old photograph, painting, or film can bring a style of beauty from a distant past into the present. It is not nostalgia or regression, but a past that has come to be categorized as the newest now.”

One of the directions in Galliano's perspective is the history of fashion, as it was evident in his Givenchy's Haute Couture, but his catalogue in the February 2006 issue of High Fashion offers a broader view of the "past". The following is a clear insight into the work of the designer. The cover of the issue features a short nude color dress by Christian Dior, another maison he was working with at the time.

“In this issue, I requested a backstage interview with John Galliano. With his kind consent, I was lucky enough to get to take a peek at the one-of-a-kind, handmade creative book that he and his atelier staff create in the two to three weeks before they start working on the collection.” Galliano refers to the 38-page book, which measures 35 cm by 32 cm, his “bible”. Each spread is titled accordingly to the collection. The right side of each page is a book-sized doll wearing a dress or pantsuit made from the actual textile used in the show, and the left side is a collage of black and white photographs selected by Galliano himself. The periods vary from the 1920’s to perhaps the 1980’s. The photographs range from unidentified snapshots to a photograph of Diane Arbus's twins. Their individual appearances and attire from the past, all serve as inspiration. “Galliano, who visualizes sensuality and splendor in his clothes and through colors that overflow with emotion, is a man of the avant-garde, transforming classic or past styles into the present and on to the next generation.”

In 2014, John Galliano was appointed creative director of Maison Margiela. “There is a crucial difference between the brands that Galliano has worked on so far. It was a struggle between two different avant-gardes: Margiela's pre-existing avant-garde and Galliano's avant-garde. I think that this appointment was a difficult and pressurized challenge that, in terms of how to find a point of reconciliation and how to evolve as a brand, others could not imagine. I didn’t see the pieces directly at the show venue, but I felt that the collection was meticulously and carefully crafted. It was natural for Galliano to add his own essence, but at the same time he had to subtract elements, which seemed to be a new approach for him. Also, the pieces presented have convinced the traditional avid Margiela fans.”

“When I look at it now, I admire the good judgment of Mr. Renzo Rosso, chairman of the Diesel Group (OTB), in appointing him to Margiela, which was an unexpected choice for most people. He must have thought that Galliano's exceptional talent, which could lead the next generation, could not remain buried. A true genius is someone who is destined to create and cannot help but to continue creating. A person who, due to immersion, creates something at the level of 150 because 100 is not enough. I can't help but think of that anecdote about Hokusai Katsushika saying in his later years how he wished he had 10 more years, or even 5 years to live so he could become a real painter, somehow overlaps with Galliano's existence as a creator.”

Taguchi continued, “I know this may seem like a digression, but ‘facial features’ have always been an important theme for me…” as she continued naming artists, “I sense the 'face of a genius' in them.”

“The first of those people would be Salvador Dali. I don't think it's a coincidence that Galliano also picked up Dali's portrait in his so called ‘bible’. Another person would be Andy Warhol. In Japan, I would say Tadanori Yokoo, Masuo Ikeda, Shuntaro Tanikawa, Katsura Funakoshi. There is also Heiga Gennai, who often appears in ukiyoe prints. I once thought that the only actor who could play his role would be Yusaku Matsuda. He has a beautiful head structure, petit face, and a slim figure. Above all, his ‘eyes’ have a strong glow that seems to piece through anything with a single glance. His deep eyes, which seem to contain madness, leaves an impression on you that he is unapproachable. In my mind, Galliano is in the same league.”

I recalled that Taguchi had once emailed me and shared a line that an old master in an ancient Chinese costume drama quoted: "Features are born from the heart, and the heart determines the situation.”

Toshiko Taguchi

Born in 1949. Chief editor of MR High Fashion and High Fashion, now a freelance editor.