Designers on the verge of a nervous breakdown

On the same day that Channel 4 screened its documentary ‘McQueen & I’, a window into the relationship between Isabella Blow and Alexander McQueen and a commentary on the pressures of influential fashion designers, news  broke of John Galliano’s latest troubles. While the Galliano story is still unfolding, I can’t help musing on the fashion industry and the fragility of some of its players. As the McQueen documentary demonstrated, the gap for ‘creative time’ between collections is virtually non-existent as designers of major fashion houses have to create not only the main collections for the brands but often couture lines and their own lines while overseeing menswear lines, diffusion lines and pre-collections. The volume of work is overwhelming.

McQueen would often send out for ‘vitamin substances’ (as Givenchy’s former PR politely referred to McQueen’s requests for cocaine sustenance) to help deal with his emotional pressures and it’s been reported that the ranting Galliano was “in a phase of partying” following a teetotal period. The best designers are creative geniuses who are able to mentally go to a place that doesn’t exist in the realms of most people’s imaginations. But when the pressure is on, is it that easy to flick the switch and let the ideas flow to order? Creative people are not machines, they are sometimes strong but sometimes highly strung, vulnerable human beings crying out for nurturing and support. Preferably sooner rather than later.

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9 Responses to Designers on the verge of a nervous breakdown

  1. Mmmm Lee was really troubled and struggled with lots and didn’t insult anyone in the process. Whilst Galliano whom I adore(d) was introspective and whilst creativity does allow for a certain amount of bonkers things, the utterance and depravity displayed by Galliano in a nano second is not something creative or genius.

    It does reveal a lonely, bitter individual and sadly it is the demise of his career unless soem real salvage work can be done but I doubt it.

    He was always pleasant given the adoration we’d heap upon him when he was in the LCF library when in London but in this case I think it is a case of ‘no excuses’

  2. VSP says:

    I agreed with you Disneyrollergirl, until I saw THE video… all a bit pitiful, and really it’s a shame to finish off such a brilliant career this way…can drugs and alcohol really bring out this much hatred? The bottom line to me is as they say” no smoke without fire”, he’s gone too far, and has dug his own grave.

  3. susan supercharged says:

    Well said DRG.BUT , Whilst we all know there is no excuse for this kind of behaviour, the rocking, the slurring, the absolute stupidity, the childish defense,is all too common.(Go to Soho any night of the week to witness more of the same) unfortunately he comes off like a drunken old alcoholic , or a Winona style oxycoton maniac. I don’t think anyone could say this is a compos mentis human being in this video. I found it harrowing and sad.Yet I would not condemn a crack addict and his rantings either. The pressure to produce non stop did drive Alexander McQueen to his death, and certainly this will be a big part of the behaviour in this video. Okay the guy is an a**hole, okay he’s a drunk and needs help, but that doesn’t take away that he is actually the master of his craft and industry. It will be a huge creative loss if he doesn’t get the help he needs.

  4. Well put and I think an angle that many people don’t think of. I was amazed to see how many collections McQueen was turning out – it must have been physically and mentally exhausting.
    Love the new look site – you must be really pleased with it! Well done xxx

  5. Cara Bennett says:

    I couldn’t believe it when I seen in the newspaper what Galliano said. I don’t care how drunk or high he was, it was disgusting.
    I will never be a fan of his again.

  6. I’m in no way justifying what Galliano did but I’m disturbed by the way Dior has just dropped him without a) a trial & b) allowing him to defend himself.

    I’m thinking of the incident where Perez Hilton, (openly gay) called Will.i.am a f*****g f****t. It seemed a bizarre thing to do until Perez told us that he was trying to call Will.i.am the most hurtful thing he knew & suddenly a peculiar, (misguided) logic fell into place.

    I’d love to hear Galliano’s explanation of what happened. Without Galliano the industry will be a poorer place.

  7. Katie M says:

    The firing of Galliano and the anniversary of McQueen’s death within the space of 1 month should be considered more than a coincidence. I entirely agree with disneyrollergirl in that the amount of pressure felt by these designers is insane and the sheer amount of work must be exhausting, mentally and physically.
    It’s kind of ironic that I’ve just gotten around to reading The Beautiful Fall by Alicia Drake and that somewhat chronicles Yves Saint Laurent’s drink and drug downfall in the 70′s and 80′s. Yves struggled with manic depression anyway and the pressure to create collections, each more innovative and spectacular than the last, was obviously too much at times. Women expected so much of him, and his story seems to be replaying in todays industry.

  8. me says:

    Oh please, being ‘fragile’ and overworked has absolutely nothing to do with being a bigot and a racist. Nothing.

    Frankly i’m disappointed in your views on this situation.

  9. Kaz says:

    This is the bit I love the most about your post: “Creative people are not machines, they are sometimes strong but sometimes highly strung, vulnerable human beings crying out for nurturing and support. Preferably sooner rather than later.” Usually the genesis of the fall of the many ‘greats’, and a fact that is often overlooked by all, especially the critics within this industry. Unfortunately, the time-out needed by these creative people for self reflection will never happen because the Fashion houses expect their cash register to ring constantly no matter whose life it ruins in the process! What makes this even more annoying is how the truth is adjusted to reflect what is in fact not true. Toledano’s speech about Christian Dior’s values failed to mention its founder’s relationship with members of the Nazi occupation during the 2nd world war. Everyone seems to turn a blind eye at Coco Chanel or Hugo Boss’s ideologies in that regard too. The industry seems to pick and choose its battles in a hypocritical manner. I do not support Galliano’s outburst in any way but I think what is good for the goose is good for the gander and this industry needs to stop the habit of kicking its talents when they are down!

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