John Galliano has always been obsessed with wardrobes even if these days, in his designs for Maison Margiela, he is all about tearing them apart. Especially if it’s the wardrobe of the very respectable bourgeoisie.
That’s true for both men and women, sometimes at the same time. From his opening look in his show for Margiela inside the Grand Palais in Paris on a chilly Wednesday. What could have been a classical mannish tailored coat was cut away to reveal a see-through gown, hung over a silken dress – seams, padding, horsehair and stitching all evident. A pure artistic fashion statement – just like much of this thoroughly excellent collection.
Galliano continually lightly layered with the subtlest of hands; whipping up all sorts of intriguing visions – in a masterclass of cutting and disassembling with manic zeal. From brigadier’s coats with just one mutton-shaped sleeve to an Eliza Doolittle lace dress that seemed to interweave with a floral trench, which itself was decomposing. Even woolen socks seemed to be un-sewing themselves, in a collection themed around what Galliano’s notes termed “the technique of work in progress.”
The atmosphere, punchy yet polished, aided by an excellent color palette – powdery roses, oranges, lilacs, and pinks. The UK designer also worked the house’s codes, with obvious commercial skills. Like the cloven-toe boots, the founder made famous, used in new split-toe loafers that will walk out of Margiela’s worldwide retail network.
Being a Galliano show, there had to be a dose of stylistic wickedness. This season John had several disruptive moments. For this finale, several deranged dandies, in majestic greatcoats, with one-foot-wide lapels, trimmed with belts, complete with Alaskan trappers’ caps or huge symmetrically pinched Rocky Mountain hats. They say the Mounties always get their man. Now so does Maison Margiela.