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John Galliano named creative director of Maison Martin Margiela

François Guillot, AFP | British designer John Galliano

British designer John Galliano is to return to the fashion world as the creative director of French fashion house Maison Martin Margiela, the label announced on Monday.

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The 53-year-old designer, who spent nearly 15 years at Dior, left fashion in 2011 after he was caught on video slurring “I love Hitler.” He was dismissed from Dior, left his namesake label and was convicted by a French court on complaints of anti-Semitic behavior.

Since then, Galliano has acknowledged having undergone treatment for drugs and alcohol, and in 2013 he worked briefly as a designer for New York fashion brand Oscar de la Renta.

Galliano's first collection for the avant-garde Margiela - known for its conceptual fashion and all-white stores - will hit the Paris catwalks in January.

Announcing his appointment, Renzo Rosso, whose OTB group controls Margiela, described him as a "charismatic, creative soul".

"John Galliano is one of the greatest undisputed talents of all time - a unique, exceptional couturier for a maison (house) that has always challenged and innovated the world of fashion," he said in a statement.

"I look forward to his return to create that fashion dream that only he can create," he added.

During his 15-year tenure at Dior, the moustachioed designer styled himself publicly as a neo-modern Edwardian dandy, assuming rock star poses at the end of his shows.

But backstage he was known to be rather shy and more interested in discussing the technical aspects of his creations.

The son of a British plumber father and a Spanish mother, he was immensely influential and seen as the driving force behind Dior's 700 million euro annual profits at the height of his time there.

'Charismatic, creative soul'

According to industry journal Women's Wear Daily, Galliano will take over all lines at Margiela including haute couture and women's and men's ready-to-wear.

The fashion industry has been awash with speculation in recent months about his future although Rosso last month denied rumours that the designer was to join the house.

The Italian industrialist, nevertheless, made no secret of his admiration for Galliano's talents.

"Who wouldn't like to work with him? If he ever got back his name, I would be the first to produce his collections," WWD quoted him as saying in September.

Serge Carreira, an expert in fashion and luxury at France's Sciences Po, an elite Paris university, said the appointment would be a new departure for Margiela.

The fashion house has relied on an anonymous team rather than one star designer since its Belgian founder's retirement in 2009.

"The challenge for John Galliano is to show that he is still engaged with his times and is able to translate the spirit of the house without distorting it," he added.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP, REUTERS)

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