John Galliano is one of Britain's fashion heroes. Born in 1960 to a working class Gibraltan family, Galliano lived on the island until leaving at the age of six for south London. But it was the young Juan Carlos Antonio's early life, with its religious ceremonies and sun-drenched culture, which has proved a constant inspiration for Galliano's stylistic eclecticism wedded to the Latin tradition of 'dressing-up' has become his signature.
Having attended Wilson's Grammar School for boys, Galliano won a place at Saint Martins college, graduating in 1984. And it was that graduation collection - inspired by the French Revolution and titled 'Les Incroyables' - that was bought by Joan Burstein of Browns, catapulting the young designer into the spotlight.
In 1990 - after suffering a period notorious for problems with backers and collections deemed uncommercial because they dared to dream beyond the conventional - Galliano started to show in Paris, moving to the city in 1992. A champion of the romantic bias-cut dress and the dramatic tailoring of '50s couture at a time when minimalism and grunge dominated fashion, it was announced in 1995 that Galliano would succeed Hubert de Givenchy at the dusty maison de couture.
Two seasons later, and with an unprecedented four British Designer of the Year awards under his belt, Galliano became creative director at Christian Dior, presenting his first collection for the spring/summer 1997 haute couture show. Since then, Galliano has financially and creatively revitalised the house, while continuing to design his own collections for men and women in Paris, a city where he is accorded the status of fashion royalty.