Kirstie Clements: Two very different celebrations remind us why we love fashion

From John Galliano's odd and eccentric to Country Road's spirit of Australia.

From John Galliano's odd and eccentric to Country Road's spirit of Australia. Photo: Margiela/Country Road

In the midst of all the fashion fatigue there is out there – the seasonal trends, TikTok micro trends, ready-to-wear shows, Haute Couture shows, online fast fashion, luxury stores and the relentless High Street – sometimes a moment of pure beauty is needed as a reminder for why so many of us love fashion in the first place.

Last week it was John Galliano for Martin Margiela’s moody, unnerving show which was staged on rainy night under a bridge in Paris.

A masterful evocation of the great photographer Brassai and his images of the seedier side of 1930s Paris, the show was immediately hailed as a tour de force due to its theatricality and emotion with corseted models and raffish n’er-do-wells resembling broken porcelain dolls. 

There was a sense of danger, of the odd and the eccentric, of the exquisite and the twisted and it was sublime.

These were not the mere shock tactics that you see in so many other shows, it was a purely creative vision, translated by fashion royalty including milliner Stephen Jones and makeup artist Pat McGrath.


A sense of danger, of the odd and the eccentric, the exquisite and twisted.  Photo: Margiela

It was a reminder of a time, back in the late ’90s, when Galliano was at Givenchy and then Dior, when the fashion shows really did transport you to another world.

The unsettling beauty of the show seemed to fit perfectly with these unsettling times, a period when attending a Paris fashion show seems vacuous and insensitive. But the world Galliano’s models were inhabiting looked to be imperfect and cruel , somehow evoking an emotion that has been missing from fashion for a very long time.

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In another completely different fashion moment, iconic Australian lifestyle brand Country Road is celebrating five decades of style this year.

To commemorate this milestone the latest campaign, which was shot in Broken Hill on Wilyakali and Barkindji Country, features a cast of Australian models including Gemma Ward and Indigenous beauties Billie-Jean Hamlet, and Tarlisa Gaykamangu.

Fifty years is an astonishing amount of time for a fashion brand to exist and Country Road has weathered many storms, including the rise of very cheap and competitive fast fashion.

As many of us would remember, when Country Road was launched in 1974 by founder Stephen Bennett, the brand philosophy was all about quality fabrics and classic clothing that would last more than one season.


Built on quality foundation pieces and an Australian identity. Photo: Simon Lekias

It offered ( and still does) really great foundation wardrobe pieces such as chinos and chambray shirts and stylish denim.

The younger generation won’t appreciate just how much Country Road changed menswear in Australia – well-cut suiting for work that was classic and cut for a bigger guy, and quality footwear like suede brogues, desert boots and lace up dress shoes that were not widely available in Australia back then.

So while John Galliano might be celebrating 1930s Paris on the banks of the Seine, we have our own fashion memories and one of those is the exhausted business man on the last Sydney/Melbourne Qantas flight, carrying his Country Road duffel bag. Still a classic.

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