PFW: JOHN GALLIANO S/S 2014

Bill Gaytten has a sense of humor. Most runway models this season are averaging a height of about 5′ 10″. Over the past few seasons, we’ve seen the standard  height of a runway model grow from 5′ 8″ as women around the world, even in third world countries, are growing taller than ever before. In response, we have seen many designers this season put their models in flat sandals or low-rise wedges. High heels have been almost non-existent. A few have chosen modest platforms, but when doing so they’ve been flat platforms, never increasing a model’s height by more than a couple of inches. What does Gaytten do? He puts his models in huge shoes that start with a three inch platform and then add an additional four inch rise in the back! The effect on the runway was something like being attacked by a number of very thin Amazon women with bright clothes and funky ball caps! Quick! Run for your lives!

Two things crossed my mind as I watched the Galliano presentation this afternoon. First was that Gaytten should have passed out shades to everyone in his audience. He wins the prize for sheer color intensity this season. While he’s not the first to go bright for next spring, he ramps up the color to a point it actually made my eyes hurt. Second, no woman in her right mind would wear these ensembles, as attractive as they are, the way they are presented here. Gaytten is trying very hard to re-establish the Galliano name, if not the designer, as a significant force in the fashion industry. As a result, the collection he presents here was directed more toward the fashionistas sitting in the front row than the women who will actually be plunking down their credit cards to buy the garments next spring.

The shoes were what was getting the bulk of attention. In addition to their height, which may require an additional rider on your health insurance policy, and the bright colors matching the clothes, there are three-inch wide bows on the front of every one. So help me, wear these to any gathering of any kind next spring and people are not going to have a clue whether you wore anything else or not. The shoes demand everyone’s attention.

Accompanying several of the looks were modified and textured leather ball caps. Again, this is a play for editorial attention that rates a zero on the practicality scale. Leather caps are hot on the head and no matter how interestingly styled they are the head wearing one is going to perspire heavily. Most women know that and will stay well away from such a heat trap.

With so many distractions, one might easily forget how genuinely wonderful the clothes in the collection actually are, which is a terrible shame. Gaytten sticks to his trademark lean silhouettes, but comes at them with perforated and laser cut fabrics that are attractive and comfortable to wear. Okay, some of the skirts are short enough one might need to exercise caution when sitting and avoid bending over at all costs. But when considered away from the spectacle of the runway, these really are intelligent and fun to wear clothes.

I have to believe Galliano is back, hanging around the design studio, and strongly influencing his friend’s creative decisions. In many ways, this show was classic John Galliano, regardless of who stepped out to take the bow at the end. I’m not opposed to Galliano making a return to his own label, but perhaps next season we can actually focus on the clothes.

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