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in Paris any number of designers enjoyed cross-dressing

Posted Mar 01 2013 2:21am

The Times went on at some length about the British aspect of all this despite the fact the notion of a perfidious Englishman running a Paris couture house is hardly new. Remember Captain Molyneux? Despite his Gallic-sounding name, the captain was not only a Brit but a very gallant one, who’d had an eye shot out by the bloody Hun during the First War, and subsequently had two distinct careers designing clothes in Paris, the first time doing it very well, and the sequel a rather dismal flop.


Ms. Spindler did note, in passing, that the very first Paris couture house was that of another, even earlier Englishman, Charles Worth.

What does strike me as bizarre-the sort of person Dior and Givenchy have hired (or had hired for them by Bernard Arnault, the boss, who is chairman of the parent company, LVMH Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton, which last year had sales of nearly $6 billion).

The new designer of Dior is John Galliano (yes, I know, that’s an Italianate name, but believe me, the fellow’s a Brit) who moves over from a brief stint at running Givenchy. Mr. Galliano enjoys wearing a nice skirt (not a kilt, I assure you) and is often photographed in one. Another designer who had previously turned down the Givenchy job was Jean-Paul Gaultier, who is middle-age, has hairy knees and who also likes a nice skirt.

In my time in Paris any number of designers enjoyed cross-dressing but they usually did it at home among intimates or in smokey little places on the Left Bank or on holiday in the baths at Marrakesh.

As for the Maison Givenchy, the new star is Alexander McQueen, a plump 27 year old with an earring or two, the son of an English taxicab driver, and who on first being asked if a job switch was in the works told the Times, “I don’t know nothing. I don’t know nothing.”

He is known for bare-buttocked designs, for spray-painted leather suits, for splashing fake blood about, and for collections dedicated to Jack the Ripper and to Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

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