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Bespoke - - JOHN GALLIANO -

As one of the fash­ion world’s most re­spected cre­ative ge­niuses, John Gal­liano’s fall from grace sent shock­waves through the in­dus­try. Many won­dered whether he could ever rise again. But he has.

We’ve come to Lon­don to meet John Gal­liano and his long-term boyfriend, the celebrity stylist Alexis Roche, has left us alone to talk, although he smiles anx­iously as he closes the door to the ho­tel suite. Gal­liano, 55, hasn’t given an in­ter­view in years, but to­day he’s ready. The for­mer Dior de­signer has a new job, and a new ap­proach to life, at Mai­son Margiela, where he has been cre­ative di­rec­tor for 18 months. The avant-garde Paris la­bel is owned by the Ital­ian bil­lion­aire Renzo Rosso, whose com­pany OTB also owns the Diesel group. Dressed in a dark Prada suit, with his long hair fall­ing over one eye, the most flam­boy­ant thing about him to­day is his vin­tage gold cig­a­rette case and lighter. Smok­ing is his last vice. He’s been sober for five years, ever since a video of him hurl­ing anti-semitic abuse at cus­tomers in a Paris bar be­came pub­lic in 2011. That in­ci­dent spec­tac­u­larly crashed his ca­reer. Gal­liano was branded a bigot and ban­ished from fash­ion. “Be­fore, work was the most im­por­tant thing in my life, not my health, which is in­san­ity,” he says as we sip on wa­ter and green tea. The fact that he is sit­ting here, sober and hap­pily talk­ing about his role at Mai­son Margiela, where sales have risen 30 per cent since he took over, is a per­sonal and pro­fes­sional tri­umph. Many be­lieved he would never sur­vive the shame of his down­fall. The day Dior an­nounced it had sacked him, March 1st, 2011, he checked him­self into an Ari­zona re­hab fa­cil­ity, where they took every­thing away from him. Af­ter­wards, he con­tin­ued his re­cu­per­a­tion at his coun­try house in France, emerg­ing briefly in July 2011 to make Kate Moss’s wed­ding dress. It was the worst of times, which Gal­liano has said was a cul­mi­na­tion of years of drink and drug abuse, ag­gra­vated by the pres­sure to cre­ate. He was a “slave” to his suc­cess, but ad­mits his ap­proach to work also has a self-de­struc­tive edge. “The cre­ative process is all-con­sum­ing, and that’s some­thing in me – one of my many char­ac­ter de­fects – that I have to keep in check.” He de­scribes him­self as al­most go­ing into a trance when in work mode. “When I’m fit­ting and drap­ing, the house could burn down and I wouldn’t be aware. You can get to five o’clock in the morn­ing and I’m still there.” These days, he strives for bal­ance. “Friends ring me about 8pm and say, ‘Are you still there?’” he laughs. “The world is not go­ing to stop spin­ning if you go home – but that’s how I used to think.” In his Dior pomp – when back­stage at shows one as­sis­tant would hold his cig­a­rettes, an­other his lighter – he’d be­come so cut off from re­al­ity that or­di­nary tasks were be­yond him. “When I left my pre­vi­ous day job, I didn’t know how to write emails or use a mo­bile phone be­cause every­thing was done for me.” Post Dior and post re­hab, Gal­liano pur­sued his re­cov­ery from ad­dic­tion with verve, even con­sult­ing Shaolin monks. “I wanted to learn to med­i­tate,” he says. “I just needed to learn how to stop the voices in my head. And they said to me that the cre­ative process was my form of med­i­ta­tion, so I’ve been med­i­tat­ing since I was at Saint Martin’s School of Art.” Part of his cure was to re­visit his child­hood. He was born Juan Car­los in Gi­bral­tar on Novem­ber 28, 1960, the mid­dle child of three (he has two sis­ters). The fam­ily came to Eng­land in 1967, when he was six. His fa­ther, John Joseph, was a plumber and his mother, Anita, was a din­ner lady. The fam­ily were de­vout Catholics and Gal­liano would some­times serve as an al­tar boy. He at­tended a gram­mar school where he was bul­lied. He says he re­treated into his imag­i­na­tion be­fore find­ing his cre­ative out­let at St Martin’s. But Gal­liano is a new man now. He now wakes early and hits the gym. “It keeps me in the present,” he says, “which is so im­por­tant, be­cause for so long I wasn’t.” Break­fast in­volves green tea, fruits of the sea­son, and por­ridge with almond milk. He’s in the of­fice early. “I now un­der­stand why peo­ple start work at 9am. That used to be when I was fin­ish­ing,” he chuck­les. The new Gal­liano spends his days do­ing fit­tings and re­search­ing, sur­rounded by his de­sign team (many of whom worked with him at Dior) and lots of in­terns. “Be­fore they were al­ways in an­other room,” he says, ref­er­enc­ing his hi­er­ar­chi­cal days at Dior. They’ve

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