Thursday, September 10, 2009

But He Seams Straight: John Galliano for Christian Dior

For all of Galliano's flamboyant showmanship (and occasional nonsense with half-dressed models), the man upholds the Dior heritage of tailoring with the reverence the name deserves.

Look here at this wonderful Prince-of-Wales houndstooth check suit, shown in the August Paris Vogue. It's so neatly tailored it would make Wallis Simpson weep in her grave, for the fact of being too dead to wear it.

Click on the picture to see more detail--the crossover double-breasted fashioning looks effortless, but must have been the devil to effect. Even more impressive is the meticulous pattern matching across the front opening, and across the shoulder area and arms. If there is a shoulder seam, I can't see it--it's that good.

I've talked about pattern matching before, and how reliable an indicator it is of exquisite attention to detail on the part of a design team. Recently, I bought a vintage Valentino Miss V jacket on eBay for $30/£18 for this very reason.

I loved the fact that the Romans had a go with a motif that is essentially Central Asian. The wool fabric would be right at home in a seraglio of some regional warlord, retired after pillaging the West.

As such, it's a bit of a pain finding the right bottom half to balance it. It's a bruiser of a pattern, begging for a fight with another one, or to be muzzled under layers of shawls. Ideally I'd wear it with dusty blue suede trousers, or possibly a pair of pyjama-y silk cigarette pants in a smaller-grade paisley, whose colors complement those in the jacket.

Since I have neither, I'll probably wear it with dark denim jeans. It's possible that the workers who sewed this jacket--as complex as the piecework is--actually had an easier time matching it than I will.

(photo top Inez Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin for Paris Vogue, styled by Carine Roitfeld)


  1. The workmanship on that houndstooth suit almost made me weep. I took bespoke tailoring as one of my electives in fashion school.
    My teacher stressed the importance of matching patterns and what a sign of attention to detail that was. She made us strive to match patterns even in the linings.
    When I was hunting in the thrift shops in Montreal after reading your book, this one one of the first things I learned to look for.

  2. Oh how I love a well constructed suit. It is a thing of beauty. I think I have found what may be a shoulder seam! But is it possible the seam comes after the cap of the shoulder? Is it my imagination?

  3. I am a fanatic for pattern matching and your Valentino suit jacket is a perfect example! I recently sold a Hanae Mori couture dress made of kimono silk. The dress had self-fabric covered buttons and bound buttonholes. The sewing room even took pains to match the buttons to the underlying fabric around the buttonhole. It was incredible.

  4. I'm not a fashion expert, but I've been following John Galliano ever since I saw his Maria-Luisa gown for Christian Dior in "Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed". Recently I came across an artist (Kip Omolade) who featured the dress in a painting: Are any other painters using fashion in their work?