When people Nonie has admired since childhood say they love Hitler during a drunken slanging match in a bar in Paris, Nonie is sad. Nonie is more than sad. Nonie is a bit disgusted and thinks these people should seek therapy. (Which they are now doing in a rehab centre in the Arizona desert. Let’s see how that pans out.)
Nonie is even more sad when the people – OK, person – in question is the very person Nonie chose to rave about in the opening of Sequins, Stars & Spotlights. Nonie devoted a whole chapter to the fabulousness of John Galliano and was beyond not impressed to see him on video, talking about people being gassed.
Nonie notes in passing that many of the people working in the garment industry in Paris during the Second World War were Jewish, and for that and other reasons, many of them were gassed. Mr Galliano himself, as a gay man, would have been on Hitler’s list too. He knew all of this when he made his remarks, but he was ‘tired and emotional’ and said ‘things he regretted’. We all do. We just aren’t all the creative director of Christian Dior – a multi-billion pound international fashion house – at the time, and the things we regret don’t usually involve Hitler.
In my case, they usually involve Jenny or Edie and their general idiocy. Different. No therapy required.
Anyhoo … one good thing happened.
Because Galliano wasn’t there to do his normal theatrical bow at the end of his show last week (see Chapter 1 of Sequins, Stars & Spotlights, above), they had a gap to fill, so they filled it with the people who actually made the collection.
‘But surely John made the collection?’ you say. We fashion insiders laugh in your general direction. Haute couture designers don’t ‘make’ collections. Most haute couture designers couldn’t if they tried. It takes a very special skill to do the cutting, sewing, tailoring, lace-making and embroidery required at the highest level. The people who can do it are called the ‘petites mains’ (little hands). Their skills often run in the family and they specialise to an immense degree. They are AMAZING and frankly, they should take a bow at the end of every show. Without them, it would merely be a procession of pretty sketches and a mood board.
However, it’s rare to see them in public. I love their precise, medical-looking white coats, don’t you? I love how they look like a team, and how proud they are of each other. (I wish I had a spare one living round the corner, like Crow did with Yvette, to teach me how to hem properly, or attach knitted tops to silken bottoms, or mend the hole in my tracksuit.)
I really would not like to be John Galliano right now. I hope he emerges from rehab and a long spell of reflection on how out of control he got, and what it cost him – and finds some friends to help him rebuild his life. Crow has us; we have Crow. We keep each other together.
However, I would be a ‘petite main’ ANY time. They’re incredible at what they do. They make very beautiful things very well. If you want to read more about them I recommend you try and get ‘Flowers for Mrs Harris’ by Paul Gallico out of the library. It’s a lovely little book. Totally yay.