WHO IS BILL GAYTTEN?
There is, however, a mystery man in this scenario by the name of Bill Gaytten, who is now the Acting Creative Director of both Dior and Galliano. While he has garnered a lot of attention in this past year as a result of the position he has acquired, very little is known about him aside from the few collections he has put forth and that he has spent decades working alongside Galliano. Fashion industry professionals seem to know very little of him, while some who have worked closely with him have refused to discuss him, and even those who were willing to discuss Gaytten, had few things of significance to say. The critics panned his first collection, which was for Dior couture, beginning with Cathy Horyn from The New York Times. “He’s a sweetheart, but not a designer,” she said, and called some elements of the collection “dumb” and added, “That immaculate Dior polish was not evident.”
In the same review, Ms. Horyn questioned why a studio assistant has been given such a heavy position in taking over both Dior and Galliano, and Anja Vang Kragh, also expressed confusion at the choice. Vang Kragh said he wasn’t present at the studios on a daily basis. “It was like he was almost working there freelance, up until 2003,” Vang Kragh says. “As a person I really like Bill, he has always been a warm, sweet guy, it’s just really weird what’s going on here, that his [Galliano’s] close friend and assistant is the new John Galliano.” Since his first couture show, Mr. Gaytten has shown another season of collections and has made moves as Creative Director of Galliano. For the most recent Dior collections, he seems to be erring on the side of caution, relying on perfect technical creations, sans Galliano’s trademark drama and over-the-top showmanship. As a result, critics have been more positive in their reviews, calling his latest couture offering, “technically persuasive,” “pure nostalgia” and “a class act by any standards,” even in spite of it lacking emotion.
He also recently released the first new ad campaign for Galliano under his creative direction, which employed a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas theme, a choice that raises the question of prudence. Utilizing this film as a reference naturally raises eyebrows, as it is a tale laden with drug and alcohol abuse, two of the things that were a part of Mr. Galliano’s downfall.
The hand that LVMH may be playing with Mr. Gaytten is also curious. In a recent post-show interview after Dior’s spring couture show, he said to Grazia magazine, “I am super organized, fully programmed. I do what I am told.” It is unclear to what he refers when talking about what he is being told to do, though one interpretation could be that it is in reference to direction coming from corporate entities above him at LVMH.