An endangered vessel can never remain rudderless for too long and it's been almost 12 months since the helmless ship Christian Dior parted with its (aspirational-pirate) captain John Galliano. As the A/W 12'/13' shows draw closer and the couture shows get underway, replacement talks are swirling once again with fashion ed's and fans collectively chomping at the bit to postulate who Galliano V2.0 will be.
Rewind to 2011 and it was thanks to one little pixelly candid video that our Gibraltan maverick's career suffered its coup-de-grace, capturing him throwing anti-Semitic remarks in the direction of a pair of unassuming patrons at La Perle in Paris: "I love Hitler. People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers would all be fucking gassed."
Nothing like a little casual fascism eh?
Now, whilst rhapsodising about your tyrannical, imperialist hero won't endear you to your fans, if anything, Galliano's tragically misguided slurring diatribe pitifully illustrated, moreover, a man suffering demons than a hateful agenda harbouring Nazi-worshipper. Nevertheless, vociferous outcry ensued and poor JG was dropkicked from the LVMH group faster than you can say 'achtung-mein-fuhrer!'
Despite the fash-pack over-zealously clamouring to place their bets on who would replace our disgraced designer (Marc Jacobs?? Alber Elbaz?? Hedi Slimane??) Dior has remained without a creative, ahem, fuhrer since. Galliano's right-hand-man Bill Gaytten appeared to osmose into his ex-boss' shoes by default, yet his debut couture collection last June was universally panned: "On the evidence of today's first Dior couture show without John Galliano, what happens is a misjudged effort to impress an alien thumbprint on an aesthetic that, for better or worse, is one of the fashion industry's most clearly defined" sniffed Style.com's Tim Blanks. "Every house needs a point of view and it has to come from the designer - sadly that's what was lacking in today's show" lamented Vogue's Lucinda Chambers.
As World Fashion Month approaches, I wonder: just what the hell is Dior going to do with itself?
Unless Gaytten can pull something miraculous out of the bag, surely treading water with him wonkily steering the helm will please no one, right? Well, wrong actually. Curiously, Dior recently announced that their 2011 revenues were actually up 27% on last year. Mind-boggling given how lacklustre and confused Gaytten's collections have been. One can only assume Galliano's expulsion prompted unfazed Diorhards to rush out and buy his sartorial swansong A/W 11'/12' collection.
Last week, fashion's new rumoured frontrunner Raf Simons was in full right-to-remain-silent mode at his Jil Sander menswear show, meeting his Dior-probing with a wry smile and "nothing to say." Inbetween bronzing in St Barts with his ex, Marc Jacobs found time to express a grain of humility on the matter; "It's a great honour to be considered, Mr Arnault is a super intelligent man and a very smart man and it was certainly a very great honour for him to know that I was capable - and not only capable but that I am someone that he would have wanted for the job."
Now I love Raf Simons but question whether his brand of understated minimalism would translate to Christian Dior's opulent, extravagant couture. A surprisingly overlooked option is the other Christian: Lacroix that is. After collecting his P45 from his iconic eponymous label in 2009 when it sadly went into administration he can't be doing much but twiddling his thumbs, surely...? His pomp, playfulness and bird-of-paradise fantasy would be ideal for Dior, however strained relations with LVMH (Lacroix was once owned by them) lamentably eradicate him from the picture - that, and his inability to ever turn a profit.
So, the jury is still out; whether or not a new John will be rapidly installed on the Dior throne is anyone's guess. Fresh new blood is needed but let's face it, Galliano was irreplaceable to many. Bouncing from rehab-to-courthouse-to-industry-exile, all we have witnessed creatively from the besmirched genius since was his loyal friend Kate Moss' rather glorious wedding gown. To add to Galliano's diaspora, he was eventually found guilty and given a suspended fine of 6,000 euros. Whoever Dior eventually appoint, fashion is often forgiving and let's pray Galliano's banishment is only temporary.