Who better to kick off Vogue World: London than Croydon-born supermodel Kate Moss? The 49-year-old walked onto the stage at Theatre Royal Drury Lane in a custom lamé dress created by long-time friend and collaborator John Galliano, as Royal Opera House mezzo-soprano Hongni Wu sang Henry Purcell’s “When I Am Laid In Earth?” from Dido and Aeneas—Dido’s lament for her lover to remember her when she’s gone.
While the opening act of the show was an ode to classical beauty—and its ephemeral nature—in all its forms, the cowl-neck dress worn by Moss was also a love letter to the model herself. “Kate, darling Kate,” Galliano, creative director of Maison Margiela, told Vogue when explaining the starting point for the dress. “I have really taken my inspiration from the dichotomy that is Kate: that incredible fragility she has, almost like Marilyn [Monroe], and then that spellbinding magnetism that draws you in.”
That dichotomy is reflected in the choice of fabrics used to create the dress. “The lamé fabric which kind of glows and shimmers, is very strong and present and then the double layer of the dress, expressing her fragility, is in black tulle,” the designer explains.
In keeping with Maison Margiela’s penchant for upcycling (from the brand’s “Artisanal” couture collection for fallr 2012 to Galliano’s “Recicla” concept for fall 2020), the lamé is a ’30s fabric that the British designer found in Lyon. “I can’t remember when I found it but I have always had just one roll of it—I mean there is only about 15 meters on it,” Galliano explains. “When this request came along for Kate I thought, ‘Well, yes this is the moment.’ [I love] the idea of not just leaving the wonderful fabric on a roll but giving it a second life worn by one of our biggest fashion icons.”
For Galliano, working with Moss has long been a collaborative process. “I will never go too far with the dress; I try to get it to a toile stage just to see her reaction first,” he explains. “Then I can run with it once I see how she reacts in the dress and if I am going in the right way. It’s body language; I’ve known Kate a long, long time.”
Of course, Galliano has designed a number of memorable looks worn by Kate over the years, from the Union Jack jacket that she wore down the runway for his eponymous brand’s spring 1993 show (and brought back out for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in 2022) to the white slip dress that he gifted her for her 21st birthday and that she wore to the CFDA Awards in 1995 (although the model told Vogue last year that it’s since gone missing from her wardrobe). Now with her stand-out Vogue World: London look, she’s got a new piece of Galliano to add to her collection.
This article was originally published on British Vogue.