THROWBACK THURSDAY: House of Dior: Gianfranco Ferre and John Galliano
Following the departure of Marc Bohan from Christian Dior, Bernard Arnault chose Gianfranco Ferre to replace Bohan as Creative Director.
Ferre was the first non French Creative Director of the house and had previously become famous for his own fashion line under the company Baila. In his youth, he had obtained a degree in Architecture from the Politecnico di Milano which later influenced his designs and earned him the title "the architecture of fashion". His designs were more sober and strict than the earlier Dior designs which emphasized femininity and romance.
Ferre generally eschewed fashion trends and instead focused on creating designs that were both relaxed and beautiful, much in the same direction as Christian Dior himself. He drew much of his inspiration from his early trips to Asia. During his tenure with Dior, he was awarded the de D'Or (golden thimble) for his first Haute Couture collection with the House of Dior. He showed his last collection with Christian Dior in the spring of 1997.
In 1997, Bernard Arnault appointed the British designer John Galliano the head of Christian Dior. Galliano said in a press release to CBS "without Anna Wintour I would certainly not be at the house of Dior". The decision to replace Gianfranco Ferre with another non French designer was met with derision, but Arnault held to his position that Galliano would revitalized the House of Dior and maintained that Galliano expressed the same modernity, femininity, and romanticism as Monsieur Dior himself.
Galliano attracted much attention to the House of Dior with his earliest shows such as the "Homeless Show" and an S&M show. He created the iconic Saddle Bag in 1999 that came to be a staple of future Dior collections. Galliano also extended his influence to the watches that Dior sold, such as the "Malice" and "Riva".
Similar to other large fashion houses of the time, like Gucci, Galliano utilized porn chic to sell his clothing. One of his earlier campaigns featured two models in very provocative positions with the spring summer collection. The impact of Dior's ads extended beyond high fashion and into advertising for fashion. Some argue that Galliano's impact on the House of Dior is more due to his provocative advertising than his designs. Much of his work ignited criticism, specifically his zoophilic campaign.
In 2011, Galliano generated significant controversy after he was heard making anti-Semitic remarks following an evening of drinking in a Paris night club. He was fired as a result and his Fall-Winter collection was shown without him. Bill Gaytten was appointed as interim designer before a new creative director would be announced.
Galliano's influence began to fade in the 13 months following his departure. Dior's designs were no longer flamboyant or theatrical, but returned to a focus on modernity and minimalism. In April of 2012, the Belgian born designer Raf Simons was appointed the creative direction of Christian Dior and the house was finally brought fully into the 20th century.