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1970s Fashion

A Celebration of 1970s Jewellery

John Galliano at Dior: A Legacy of Theatrical Fashion and Innovative Jewellery


John Galliano, a celebrated British fashion designer, gained international acclaim during his tenure as the creative director of the iconic French fashion house, Dior, from 1996 to 2011. Known for his innovative and theatrical designs, Galliano revitalised Dior with his unique vision, blending historical references with modern flair. His contributions extended beyond clothing to include groundbreaking jewellery designs that continue to inspire.

Creative Influence and Signature Shows

Spring/Summer 1998 Collection: Galliano’s Spring/Summer 1998 collection is one of his most iconic works for Dior, held at the Paris Opera Garnier. This show was inspired by Marchesa Casati, an eccentric Italian heiress known for her dramatic and extravagant style. Models descended the grand marble staircase in elaborate designs that included hoop skirts, mink fur trims, and sculptural silhouettes, echoing Dior's "New Look" with a modern twist. The event concluded with a shower of confetti butterflies, adding to the theatrical spectacle.

Fall/Winter 1997 Couture: Galliano took inspiration from Dior’s archives and the post-war "New Look" to create a show set in a Parisian street scene. Models strolled along a cobblestone runway, clad in voluminous skirts and nipped-in waistlines, reimagining the glamour of the 1940s. This collection emphasised Galliano's ability to blend historical inspiration with modern design.

Spring/Summer 1998 Couture: This collection drew inspiration from the Marquis de Sade, an 18th-century French aristocrat. The show featured a dramatic stage with a guillotine and models in opulent gowns with exaggerated shapes, merging historical context with a provocative edge. This showcased Galliano’s flair for combining history with theatrical elements.

Fall/Winter 2000 Ready-to-Wear: Set in a life-sized replica of a Parisian metro station, this show transported the audience to the underground world of Paris. Models emerged from train carriages wearing Galliano’s modern, urban designs that blended punk influences with Dior’s classic elegance. This innovative presentation demonstrated Galliano's ability to create immersive and memorable fashion experiences.

Spring 2004 Couture: Galliano took the audience on an Egyptian odyssey, transforming the runway into a sandy desert landscape. Models appeared as ancient Egyptian goddesses, adorned in intricate beadwork and luxurious fabrics. This collection showcased Galliano’s mastery of craftsmanship and attention to detail, reinforcing his reputation for creating elaborate and imaginative runway shows.

Fall/Winter 2004 Couture: Inspired by French artist Édouard Manet, this collection featured voluminous skirts, ornate jackets, and sumptuous fabrics, all embellished with intricate embroidery and beadwork. The collection was widely lauded for its attention to detail and its ability to blend historical inspiration with contemporary style.

Spring/Summer 2005 Ready-to-Wear: Galliano’s bohemian aesthetic was front and centre in this collection, which featured flowing, floral-print dresses, fringed accessories, and layered silhouettes. This collection became highly influential, sparking the "boho-chic" trend that dominated the fashion industry in the mid-2000s.

Diverse Inspirations and Cultural References

Galliano often drew on a wide range of historical and cultural inspirations for his collections, creating fashion narratives that were both visually stunning and deeply rooted in cultural storytelling.

Spring/Summer 2001 Couture: Known as the "Napoleon and Josephine" collection, this series was inspired by the opulence of the Napoleonic era. Galliano incorporated elements from the Empire period, including military jackets with gold braiding and richly embroidered gowns, celebrating the grandeur and decadence of the early 19th century with a modern twist.

Fall/Winter 2005 Couture: This collection explored the rich cultural heritage of the East, drawing inspiration from traditional Chinese attire. The runway featured models in cheongsam-inspired dresses, intricate silk embroidery, and lavishly detailed headpieces, highlighting Galliano’s talent for blending cultural references with haute couture craftsmanship.

Spring/Summer 2003 Couture: Inspired by the Ballets Russes, this collection incorporated elements of Russian folklore, including vibrant colours, elaborate patterns, and luxurious fabrics. The collection was a tribute to the artistic collaboration between fashion and dance, creating a visually stunning and culturally rich showcase.

Spring/Summer 2002 Couture: Galliano took inspiration from the traditional dress of indigenous South American cultures. The collection featured vivid colours, intricate beadwork, and designs reminiscent of tribal attire, showcasing his ability to bring global influences into high fashion.

Fall/Winter 2006 Couture: Inspired by the Belle Époque period and the artistic movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this collection featured flowing gowns, feathered hats, and art nouveau-inspired details. Galliano captured the elegance and sophistication of the Belle Époque era, while infusing it with his unique flair, resulting in a memorable and impactful collection.

Innovative and Extravagant Jewellery Designs

During his tenure at Dior, Galliano also made significant contributions to jewellery design. His pieces were thematic and culturally rich, incorporating elements from various historical periods and global cultures.

  1. Cultural Fusion: Galliano's jewellery designs frequently showcased a blend of diverse cultural influences. For instance, his Maasai-style necklaces from his Spring/Summer 1997 collection featured elements like glass and freshwater pearls, reflecting both Victorian and African aesthetics.

  2. Historical References: Galliano’s jewellery often merged elements from different eras, such as combining Burmese neck rings with Belle Époque choker designs. This approach created pieces that were visually striking and rich in historical context.

  3. Iconic Collections:

    • "Matrix" Haute Couture Collection (Autumn 1999): This collection featured groundbreaking pieces like collar bone-sweeping earrings crafted in silver to look like wheat sheaves and headpieces adorned with Swarovski crystals and Sevres Porcelain medallions.
    • Chinese Butterfly Breastplate Necklace (Autumn/Winter 2003-04): Known for its bold and elaborate design, this necklace combined materials like gilt brass and coloured enamel, exemplifying Galliano's flair for dramatic and theatrical accessories.
  4. Innovative Design Techniques:

    • Masai-Style Necklace (Spring/Summer 1997 Couture): Galliano’s first haute couture collection for Dior featured a Masai-style necklace made from glass and freshwater pearls. This piece combined Victorian elegance with African aesthetics, showcasing Galliano’s ability to blend different cultural influences.
    • Wheat Sheaf Earrings (Matrix Haute Couture Collection, Autumn 1999): This collection included collar bone-sweeping earrings crafted in silver to look like wheat sheaves. These earrings were part of a larger collection that also featured headpieces adorned with Swarovski crystals and Sevres Porcelain medallions, demonstrating Galliano’s penchant for dramatic and luxurious accessories.
    • Bicycle Chain Necklace (Matrix Haute Couture Collection, Autumn 1999): Galliano created a necklace and bracelet fashioned after a bicycle chain, reflecting his innovative use of unconventional materials and inspiration from everyday objects. This design highlighted his ability to transform ordinary items into extraordinary pieces of couture jewellery.
    • Sevres Porcelain Headpieces (Matrix Haute Couture Collection, Autumn 1999): These headpieces were adorned with Swarovski crystals and tiny painted Sevres Porcelain medallions, hand-painted with lotus motifs. This intricate and delicate design showcased Galliano’s attention to detail and his ability to incorporate fine craftsmanship into his collections.
    • Gilt Horse-Bit Necklace (Various Collections): Galliano often incorporated equestrian elements into his jewellery designs. One notable piece was a gilt horse-bit necklace, which combined the initials "C" and "D" of Christian Dior. This piece exemplified Galliano’s ability to merge functional elements with luxurious design.
    • Jewelled Handcuffs (Various Collections): Galliano also designed a pair of jewelled handcuffs that were worn as necklaces by Dior models. This provocative and bold design was a testament to Galliano’s fearless approach to fashion and jewellery, pushing the boundaries of traditional jewellery design.
    • Aurora Borealis Crystal Jewellery (Collaborations with Swarovski): Galliano frequently used Aurora Borealis crystals, which were multi-hued and reflected the tones of the wearer’s ensemble. These crystals, developed in collaboration with Swarovski, added a dynamic and colourful dimension to his jewellery pieces, enhancing their visual impact.
    • Feathered Headpieces (Fall/Winter 2006 Couture): Inspired by the Belle Époque period, these headpieces featured luxurious feathers and art nouveau-inspired details. The intricate design and use of feathers showcased Galliano’s ability to create opulent and sophisticated accessories that complemented his couture collections.
    • Edwardian-Inspired Necklaces (Various Collections): Galliano often merged historical references with modern design, such as his Edwardian-inspired necklaces. These pieces combined elements from the early 20th century with contemporary materials and techniques, creating jewellery that was both timeless and innovative.

Legacy and Impact

Despite the controversy that led to his departure from Dior in 2011, Galliano's tenure is remembered for its bold, theatrical aesthetic and groundbreaking designs. His ability to combine historical references with contemporary fashion continues to influence designers worldwide. Galliano's work at Dior is celebrated for pushing the boundaries of haute couture and redefining modern luxury fashion.


John Galliano's era at Dior was marked by a fearless approach to design, characterised by opulent, attention-grabbing pieces that reflected his theatrical sensibility. His innovative work, particularly in jewellery design, continues to inspire and influence the fashion industry, making his legacy at Dior a defining moment in fashion history.


What are your favourite John Galliano designs from his time at Dior? Share your thoughts and favourite pieces in the comments below!


Spring/Summer 1998 Collection:

Fall/Winter 1997 Couture:

Spring/Summer 1998 Couture:

Fall/Winter 2000 Ready-to-Wear:

Spring 2004 Couture:

Fall/Winter 2004 Couture:

Spring/Summer 2005 Ready-to-Wear:

Diverse Inspirations and Cultural References

Spring/Summer 2001 Couture:

Fall/Winter 2005 Couture:

Spring/Summer 2003 Couture:

Spring/Summer 2002 Couture:

Fall/Winter 2006 Couture:

Innovative and Extravagant Jewellery Designs

Masai-Style Necklace (Spring/Summer 1997 Couture):

Wheat Sheaf Earrings (Matrix Haute Couture Collection, Autumn 1999):

Bicycle Chain Necklace (Matrix Haute Couture Collection, Autumn 1999):

Sevres Porcelain Headpieces (Matrix Haute Couture Collection, Autumn 1999):

Chinese Butterfly Breastplate Necklace (Autumn/Winter 2003-04):

Aurora Borealis Crystal Jewellery (Collaborations with Swarovski):

Feathered Headpieces (Fall/Winter 2006 Couture):


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