A new book by Dana Thomas, “Gods and Kings: the Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano”, sheds a new light on the harrowing details behind fashion designers’ glitzy lives.
In this book, Thomas focuses on, arguably, the two greatest fashion designers of our time, Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, chronicling their rises to fame and the downfalls that came along.
Some details in the book vividly documented their drug abuse, the pressure companies like LVHM and Kerring put on their designers and their troubled relationships.
“I was writing a piece for The Washington Post about John Galliano’s downfall,” says Thomas, a former model and longtime journalist who lives in Paris with her husband, Hervé and their daughter, Lucie Lee.
In the first paragraph of the Post story, she found herself mentioning Marc Jacobs’ two stints in rehab; Tom Ford becoming depressed after getting sacked from Gucci, and Christophe Decarnin, who was the lead designer at Balmain at the time, who reportedly ended up in what the French call a ‘maison de santé’. McQueen had been dead by his own hand for a year at this point.
Thomas goes on: “So I write this paragraph, and I think, ‘Wow! There’s something going on here.’” So she asked her book editor and agent: “Is this a book?” The historic moment, she says, “…felt like the end of a 30-year run of creativity. Beautiful, boundless, dizzying, magical, but it came so abruptly to a close. I knew I still had a lot in my cave [the storage space in her apartment building]. I’d kept all my clip files since before Google was invented.”
In another exposé recently written in Daily Mail, McQueen had attempted several suicide attempts and planned to incorporate his suicide within his last show. Isabella Blow’s suicide and McQueen’s mother losing her battle to a disease really hit him hard. His sister Janet told her, ‘I thought that he was coming to terms with her death. How wrong I was.”
“He suffered from acute anxiety and stress-induced problems.” Thomas says.
The book also discusses Galliano’s anti-semantic remark. It wasn’t his first outburst on the subject. According to WWD, the designer had used said epithets when inebriated. Bernard Arnault, the owner of LVHM, had tried several extensive attempts to rein in some of the Galliano’s uncontrollable antics but it seemed the pressure to produce constant creative presentation got too much to handle.
Thomas says, “I hope Bernard Arnault doesn’t come across as a villain.” The jacket of the book, however, says Thomas “chronicles the revolution in high fashion in the last two decades — and the price it demanded of the very ones who saved it.”
We really can’t blame them for running into addictive substances and abusing them, we don’t condone it but we understand why, because the pressure is absolutely ridiculous. 10 years ago, it was only 2 presentations per year, or 4 if you have menswear, Spring Summer and Fall Winter. Today with Resort Wear, Kids Wear, Accessories line, pre-fall/pre-spring wear, it can easily spawn to 6 collections, 12 if you have menswear.
This has yet to include a few labels that they might handle. Galliano, for example, used to handle Christian Dior and his eponymous label, John Galliano. Each label has, at least, 4 collections to produce per year.
One can only imagine the constant pressure all year around to create a completely different collection every six months and to think from variety of angles – business and creative-wise.
Really, when people think how glamorous the fashion industry is, they only scratch the very surface.