John Charles Galliano CBE, RDI (born 28 November 1960) is a Gibraltar-born British fashion designer who was the head designer of French fashion companies Givenchy (July 1995 to October 1996), Christian Dior (October 1996 to March 2011), and his own label John Galliano (1988 to 2011). At present, Galliano is the creative director of Paris-based fashion house Maison Margiela.
Galliano has been named British Designer of the Year four times. In a 2004 poll for the BBC, he was named the fifth most influential person in British culture.
He was born in Gibraltar to a Gibraltarian father, Juan Galliano, and a Spanish mother, Anita Guillén, and has two sisters. Galliano’s father was a plumber. His family moved to England in pursuit of work when Galliano was six, and settled in Streatham, South London, before moving to Dulwich and later to Brockley. He was raised in a strict Roman Catholic family.
After attending St. Anthony’s School and Wilson’s Grammar School in London, Galliano went on to study at Saint Martin’s School of Art, from which he graduated in 1984 with a first class honours degree in Fashion Design. His first collection was inspired by the French Revolution and entitled Les Incroyables. The collection received positive reviews and was bought in its entirety for resale in the London fashion boutique Browns. Galliano then started his own fashion label alongside long-term collaborators Amanda Harlech, at that time stylist with Harpers and Queen, and Stephen Jones, a milliner.
On the back of this success, Galliano rented studio space in London, but his talent was not matched by a head for business. Initially, financial backing came from Johan Brun, and when this agreement came to an end, Danish entrepreneur Ole Peder Bertelsen, owner of firm Aguecheek, who were also backing Katharine Hamnett at the time, took over. This agreement ended in 1988 and by 1990, he was bankrupt and, after his own London-based label failed to re-ignite his fortunes, he moved to Paris in search of financial backing and a strong client base. Galliano secured the backing of Paris-based Moroccan designer Faycal Amor (owner and creative director of fashion label Plein Sud) who invited him to set up his base in Paris at the Plein Sud headquarters. His first show was in 1989 as part of Paris Fashion Week.
Media fashion celebrity Susannah Constantine has worked for Galliano, and he has also aided the future success of other designers including shoe designer Patrick Cox. In 1991, he collaborated with Kylie Minogue, designing the costumes for her Let’s Get to It Tour.
In interviews, Galliano has given his full name as Juan Carlos Antonio Galliano-Guillén. He had a relationship with fellow Central St Martins student and fashion designer John Flett (1963–1991), whom Galliano described as his “soulmate”. Galliano currently shares his Paris home with his long-term partner Alexis Roche, a style consultant. He is vegetarian for health reasons, telling French Elle that “The energy that I get from having fewer toxins in my body is extraordinary.”