A Bastion of Tradition and A Figure of Inspiration: John Galliano Honors the Queen

Through clothes, the Beaton portraits depict the many characters that would shape that identity: the monarch in her robes and jewels; the wartime Princess in her military uniform, looking like someone you could just believe in and follow. We didn’t often hear her speak, but her clothes and jewelry told a thousand tales. I’ve often taken her style and played with it: For me it’s the underlying heartbeat, the absolute sense of tradition.

Even today at Maison Margiela there are always pictures of the Royal Family on my mood board—at the races, the Trooping the Colour. I’ll go back and forth in eras, and sometimes I have to explain the British aristocracy—or hunting, shooting, and fishing, and why these fabrics are relevant, or Hunting Pink is, or why something is lined in Tattersall—to the younger team members. My love of British yarns or wovens is inspired by her, though I do like to subvert it a little! The Land Rover, the headscarf, the corgi, the Barbour jacket. I mean, yes, yes, yes. Of course, I think those have been an influence to all creatives, if I may be so bold to say. It’s all timeless—it could be part of a design brief last week, or twenty years ago. Tradition, always tradition, no? 

I used the Union Jack for jackets for a Spring 1993 collection called Olivia The Filibuster, which was one of my earliest shows in Paris, and Kate [Moss] wore one of the jackets in the show. It was the early days of her career and she’d only done a few shows, and at that time I would give only one outfit per muse—and Kate was backstage crying and crying, saying she didn’t understand why she didn’t have three outfits and that maybe I didn’t love her. But I love the image of our queen, Kate, wearing that same jacket from the show in the presence of Her Majesty on the bus that drove down the Mall during the Platinum Jubilee. I asked myself: I did give Kate that jacket, right? Did I? I’m not sure. I must have done. [Laughs]

Her Majesty had the incredible gift of always putting everyone at ease. Before I received my CBE [in 2001], you can imagine that I was in a real state, especially after all the months of preparations and fittings at Savile Row for my morning suit to wear to Buckingham Palace. But I walked in and joined a small queue on the left, and suddenly there was an elderly gentleman in front of me being knighted, and there I was, just trying to breathe, to keep myself together—it was such a momentous event for me.