of real life.’
Christian Lacroix’s designs looked like the fashion you would imagine if you had only ever imagined it.
By Tim Blanks
Photographs by Roe Ethridge
Styling by Katie Grand
Genius is no guarantee in fashion. You can change the world, but that world eventually, inevitably demands payback. The fashion industry is, after all, a commercial enterprise. So while Christian Lacroix helped define the 1990s, fashion’s golden decade, his business never turned a profit. It’s a demoralising thought that the inspirational ebullience of his work should now be so overshadowed by financial failure. Perhaps it’s simply too soon for posterity to give him his due, to gild him with the reputation his genius demands – but it’s not too soon for me.
I was a country boy, and season after season, Lacroix’s shows were my hot-pink-drenched passport to a higher plane. The gourmet spread he laid on backstage was only the start. Lift-off took place with the visual and aural froth of the set and the soundtrack. Then we soared into the stratosphere on clouds of colour, wings of sumptuous fabric, flying carpets of rococo pattern. Christian Lacroix’s designs looked like the fashion you would imagine if you had only ever imagined it. Pure fantasy. And then he’d bring everything back to earth with libertine severity, a jolt of tailored black, a hint of inquisition. He teased. He’d be all tweedy, Ralph Lauren-y backstage, and you wondered where the fantasia came from. I had some idea, but then I spent several hours talking with Lacroix at the Hotel Amour in Montmartre earlier this year and realized that, even after all this time, I’d actually had none.
You can’t put a price on the brilliance of a mind. Get a copy of System No. 13 to learn about the man before, during, and after he became the brand. Click to buy.