When artist and model Ivy Getty became engaged to photographer Tobias Engel, she knew that she wanted to wear John Galliano for Maison Margiela on her wedding day. “John Galliano has always been a favorite designer, and I knew he would bring the vision of the dress I wanted to life,” Ivy explains. The 26-year-old granddaughter of Gordon Getty (the last remaining son of J. Paul Getty and a fixture of San Francisco society who helped fuel the rise of Governor Gavin Newsom and Vice President Kamala Harris) and one of the heiresses to the Getty family oil fortune said her vows at 6:00 p.m. tonight at City Hall in San Francisco wearing a dress designed by Galliano and comprised of four layers. “The bottom layer is a full corset matched to Ivy’s skin tone with slightly padded hips to give that smaller waist. The second layer is a tulle dress cut on the bias. The third layer is a white tulle dress, which creates a kind of filtrage. And the final layer is a mirror fragment dress, which isn’t fitted but hangs like a tunic from the shoulders,” Maison Margiela creative director John Galliano explains. “Through the cracked mirror, you see the form of the body. A big percentage of the dress is real mirror, but because she has to walk in it, we created a substance that would evoke real mirror but weigh considerably less. The fragments are linked together with wire, like jewelry. Finally, we pulled beige bias-cut leather strings through the fragments to give the texture a cooler look. I didn’t want it to look too precious.”
Ivy grew up in the five-story Getty Mansion, which is situated in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. “My grandmother always wore John Galliano’s designs,” she remembers. “After my grandmother’s passing-she was really more like a mother to me-I felt this connection to John. I knew I wanted him to create the dress for my wedding. My aunt Vanessa, who I am very close to, was connected to him through a friend, and here we are.”
“Here,” is in the 6,000 square foot penthouse suite at the Fairmount Hotel-a place that has been the temporary home for royalty, presidents, and countless celebrities over the years. Ivy is sitting in a director’s chair prepping for her rehearsal dinner later that evening. The bride's glam squad made up of Bobby Eliot, Renny Vasquez, and Mo Qin work their magic on hair, makeup, and nails respectively. The latter of which are being adorned with intricate butterflies. On her left hand is the sapphire engagement ring that Toby proposed with in Capri-it used to belong to the groom’s mother and now has Ivy’s grandmother’s diamonds around the center stone. Ivy’s rescue dog “Blue”-a chihuahua mix she adopted from the Best Friends Society in L.A.-scurries in and out of the room wearing a Christian Cohen x Max Cohen collaboration fuzzy sweater.
Talk turns back to the dress. Ivy and John Galliano officially met for the first time via Zoom during the pandemic and quickly formed a bond, despite the fact that they hadn’t spoken IRL. “We just understood each other,” Ivy says. “From growing up around his designs and knowing them so well, I felt like I already knew him, but this whole experience allowed me to get to know a new part of him. The entire process was incredibly personal, which allowed us to get even closer. The feelings [that came along with] creating my wedding dress never got old, I am still pinching myself.”
The bride didn’t go into the process with any preconceived ideas or expectation about what the end result should look like. “I had complete faith and trust in Galliano and his creative process,” she says. “I knew I was in good hands.” Galliano asked her to put a mood board together to give him an idea of what she was thinking. She did it-pulling references like butterflies, animals, walnuts, guitars, and dancing elephants to symbolize the important people in her life-but also told him not to be influenced by it as she wanted his vision to come alive. “The walnuts served as a representation of my grandmother as she grew up on a walnut farm,” Ivy explains. “The guitars throughout the veil represent my father, who was a musician.”
Both Ivy’s father and grandmother sadly passed away in 2020. “Not physically having two of the most important people in my life with me on my wedding day is extremely hard, but through John’s vision and creativity, he was easily able to bring their presence to life,” she says. On the veil, he embroidered walnuts and guitars-“John and I were joking around, and he told me I could put anything on the veil-‘even dancing elephants!’ Within that moment, I knew I had to include dancing elephants on my veil as a memento to John himself. My veil embodies the people and moments that got me to this day.”
“I really tried to get an understanding of what Ivy wanted to feel on the day,” Galliano explains. “She did fantastic collages, and I looked for the themes that kept recurring and helped her edit it down to what she wanted. The recurring theme with the body shape was pictures of Marilyn Monroe.”
Three fittings were done in the lead up to the wedding day. “I got to meet John and his team in person for the first fitting in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hills Hotel,” Ivy notes. The second fitting took place at the Margiela headquarters in Paris, and then the finishing touches were put on the dress at the final fitting at Claridge’s in London with several of Ivy's bridesmaids in tow.
“It was an out of body experience!” Ivy says. “Each fitting felt like a dream. I constantly had to remind myself this was actually happening in real life. I am grateful I was able to share such an intimate moment with someone I admire so much along with several of my bridesmaids, who I have known since childhood-my closest friends in the world. To finally be in the presence of my favorite designer was unreal. I had the privilege [of learning about] his inspiration, how he sourced each material, and got to see him work his magic directly in front of me. He is a true artist that brings every vision together, creates a story behind his work, and pays attention to every single detail. My grandmother always admired him so it felt as if she was there with me during all of this.”
“At the ceremony, she’s not going to feel alone,” Galliano adds. “There’s going to be a spiritual connection. All the people she misses are going to be there. She only needs to glance down her arms, and she’ll see the presence of her grandmother and her father. I think she’s going to be truly happy, surrounded by her husband and her friends.”