Galliano takes top accolade in British fashion awards

AMONG the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum yesterday, John Galliano was presented with the title of Designer of the Year at the Lloyds Bank British Fashion Awards, writes Tamsin Blanchard.

Galliano last received the award in 1987, at the tender age of 26, when he was labelled both the bad boy of British fashion and the undisputed star. Despite constant critical acclaim, his business has suffered many financial setbacks since then, epitomising everyone's idea of British design - high on creativity, low on commerciality.

Nevertheless, the designer has built up an impressive list of loyal clients, including the rich society women Dodie Rosekrans and Beatrice de Rothschild. His ready-to- wear collection crosses into the realms of haute couture.

Previous winners of the award, which is celebrating its 10th year, include John Rocha, Vivienne Westwood, Katharine Hamnett and Rifat Ozbek. None of these designers show their collections on the catwalk during London Fashion Week. Hamnett shows in Milan and Westwood, Ozbek and Galliano all show in Paris. This October, Rocha, last year's designer of the year, moves his catwalk show from London to Paris as well.

The award is based on Galliano's past two collections. His autumn/ winter 1994 collection is a pared- down series of intricately cut and elegant clothes influenced by the Japanese kimono. Tuxedo jackets are given a new slant with long kimono sleeves and dresses get his trademark bias cut.

The collection was shown in Paris last spring in the dilapidated grandeur of a house owned by another of his wealthy customers, Sao Schlumberger. Models wandered through the rooms as press, buyers and photographers watched from their antique sofas. The diamonds worn were real. The collection was bought by the powerful American stores Bergdorf Goodman, Nieman Marcus and Saks.

Galliano, who moved to London at the age of six with his Gibraltan father and Spanish mother, has been in the limelight since graduating from St Martin's in 1984. There, his collection, 'Les Incroyables', caused as much of a stir as that of any established designer that year. It was immediately bought by the influential London store Browns.

His fascination with bias-cutting and tailoring techniques has remained with him since then, as has his desire for a return to dressing-up.

(Photograph omitted)

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