This one’s clearly on me. If I was going to write anything about the John Galliano documentary, I should have known to read more Rachel Tashjian-Wise than just Opulent Tips.

She reported on the documentary almost two months ago, and Macdonald told her the same fascinating-to-me thing he told Josh Slater-Williams, that Galliano’s Fall 2022 show was about being the subject of a documentary. Which, if you look at that show, is all kinds of problematic. But.

She also adds so much more context: that it was Anna Wintour who dangled a Galliano documentary on the hook for several years until a director—Macdonald—bit. And crucially, as I read it, that the whole thing pivoted on documentary’s backers at Dior—and LVMH.

The reputation being laundered by the documentary is not Galliano’s—or not just Galliano’s—but Galliano’s collections for Dior. So cooperating effusively was, Macdonald suggested, “a great way for them to say, ‘Okay, we’ve laid that to rest.’ And I think, so, for Dior and for John, I think that was their agenda.”

Galliano near the Met Gala but not at it, fitting Kim Kardashian into a Margiela dress, screenshot via Mikelle Street’s social media

“It is also, of course,” wrote Tashjian-Wise, “an agenda that allows them to make more money off Galliano-designed products.” And so it seems unsurprising that weeks after the documentary dropped, Galliano was declared “the real winner of the Met Gala.” Tashjian-Wise notes that Galliano dressed six celebrities for the Met Gala, including Kim Kardashian, and Zendaya—twice. The actress skipped the co-chairs receiving line at the top of the Met’s stairs to take a second lap outside, wearing a vintage Galliano-era Givenchy.

Both Tashjian-Wise and Chantal Fernandez at The Cut reported rumors that Galliano had been Anna Wintour’s and curator Andrew Bolton’s intended subject this year’s Costume Institute exhibition. After someone at the Met nixed the plan last year, Bolton had to throw together a collection exhibition about spring florals based on a dystopian Philip K. Dick story.

A Wintour-orchestrated, LVMH-sanctioned documentary. A triumphant LVMH-sponsored museum retrospective, and reported “suggestions” that Galliano would return to LVMH. The plan really was going to be, put the antisemitic outrage outrage to rest, and use the Met Gala to launch a rebooted Galliano. The world—and some museum trustees, apparently—have intervened, but it does cast a stark light on the Met Gala as a wholly instrumentalized tool of the luxury industry.

Fernandez’ article on Andrew Bolton gets into the Costume Institute’s weird governance and curatorial shenanigans, but we’ve never gotten a breakdown of the Met Gala’s actual value proposition as the the world’s most extravagant sponcon. It’s a Condé Nast-branded, pay-to-play fashion show, combined with a party giving Vogue advertisers both content opportunities and facetime with celebrities, and the venue gets a cut of the door. And we’re all either too starstruck or too grateful for the fundraising to acknowledge how, beneath the museum’s sheer veil of cultural credibility, the Met Gala is naked.

Does John Galliano deserve your forgiveness? [washingtonpost]
The real winner of the Met Gala was John Galliano [wapo]
Oh, beef: Balenciaga won the 2024 Met Gala [townandcountrymag]
The Met Gala’s Costume Drama [thecut]
Previously, related: On making a Galliano documentary
Great Artists Steal, Gala Artists Recycle