[Editor’s note: This collection was originally presented on March 17, 1995, in a warehouse near the Pigalle district in Paris, and the photos have been digitized as part of Vogue Runway’s ongoing efforts to document historical fashion shows.]
John Galliano’s fall 1995 Dolores collection marks a pivotal moment. It was essentially his last as an indie designer. About four months after this presentation, Galliano was named the creative director of Givenchy; a year later he transferred to Christian Dior and his namesake brand was acquired by LVMH. Corporate dollars would enable Galliano to further embellish the show template (developed narrative, elaborate mise-en-scène, emotive modeling) that he had made his own.
The Dolores of the show title was the actor Dolores del Rio. The invitation to the presentation consisted of pages from the heroine’s “tortured correspondence from the Rose of Alhambra hotel to her lover, Jaime, aboard the ocean liner Berengaria, along with a lock of hair and a broken locket,” reported The New York Times. Arriving at the venue, guests were ushered onto a snow-covered rooftop set littered with scows and populated by burly sailors. One of them, the report continued, “with bare feet and red manicured toes leaned against a chimney reading a book called Killer in Drag.” The model’s furtive movements suggested some unease, but there was no repressing the joy of the clothes.
Perhaps most exuberant were the flamenco dresses, which allowed Galliano, who was born in Gibraltar, to iterate on his own heritage. There were ruffled numbers cut on the bias in shades of lavender and fuchsia, and peinetas (hair combs) took the place of tiaras. The Catholic imagination was also at work. A model in a whisper-light dress of virginal white carried a rosary and was followed by a shipmate wearing an ersatz crown made of prayer cards. The show opened and closed with black-and-white looks, perhaps suggesting that a reconciliation between opposing urges (or good and bad shoulder angels) can be achieved—though likely not for the passionate Dolores.
The real, and successful, love story of this collection was that between a man and his scissors. Galliano romanced the cloth with a technical savoir faire that was awe-inspiring. The carnation dress worn by Carla Bruni was not only cut on the bias but seamless, thanks to the floral inserts. One of these dresses is in the collection of The Met’s Costume Institute, and the catalog description notes that Galliano used the carnation “as a symbol of undying love.” What more is there to say?