Cellar circus makes vintage Galliano

Fine lace and butterflies pillaged from the painted world of the gypsy

Through the gates and into another world, into Galliano's Circus where bonfires burn, candles smoulder, acrobats cartwheel over and over again, tightrope walkers practise their turns, a dancing girl balances in a hoop suspended from the roof, and a gold-toothed gypsy woman sings along to an accordion. Some old wine cellars on the outskirts of Paris were transformed last night into a place where the fashion pack for once didn't mind the wait and positively enjoyed it. This was a whole new meaning to the phrase "a fashion circus".

The dilapidated cellars were alive with dancing and music and the show was yet to begin. "He is so original. Only the English could do this. And only John Galliano could pull it off," enthused Mrs Burstein of Browns of South Molton Street, who has supported Galliano through the many hard years when backing was scarce and nobody would pluck up the courage to invest in him. Now, he leads the way, and the fashion world - including those with money to burn - are at his feet. The announcement that he is to move from Givenchy to Dior is expected next week. It is because of Galliano that designers like Alexander McQueen, tipped to succeed him at Givenchy after only eight seasons in business, will not have to struggle as he has. The way has been open to them.

Gypsy embroideries in red and white on romantically-tailored suits; fine lace with butterflies flying out of the skirts; leather suits in red and white with tassels and sequins; lace curtains and the floral paintings from gypsy caravans; leather hipsters in red and white; floral embroideries; applique flowers on leather; a ruffled gypsy skirt; fringed heirloom shawls; a spider's web draped over a dusty pink chiffon dress. The painted, floral world of the gypsy caravan - from the eiderdowns to the curtains and the bridles on the horses - was pillaged and rampaged.

Galliano is not a follower of trends. He creates his own visions regardless of what the rest of the fashion world is doing. And throughout his career he has not compromised or conformed. At the end of the show he paraded down the catwalk with Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, in his usual eccentric garb: a striped cashmere jumper by British designers Clements Ribeiro, and a pair of rose trellis print trousers topped off with a wild head of bleached dreadlocks. As Mrs Burstein says, the man is an original through and through.

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