John Galliano’s triumphant return to fashion at the helm of Maison Martin Margiela (MMM) has been the perfect media firestorm. After his unceremonious defenestration and three-year stint as social pariah, it came as a shock to all that he was the chosen messiah to lead MMM into a new era. As the story goes, MMM has been reborn, and the brand’s unusual journey, from the cult of impersonality to the cult of personality, is nothing short of fascinating. However, what was obscured in Galliano’s takeover of the notoriously anonymous cult label was how perfect his design aesthetic worked within the established framework of the brand. Indeed, there are few designers that already hewed so closely to the MMM vision as Galliano, what with his penchant for deconstruction and half-finished looks. What we should have been paying attention to all along was the fact that Galliano was the perfect fit.
His inaugural effort – the artisanal collection that usually shows during Paris Couture Week, but leapt ahead of schedule this time around – pumped passion back into a passionless industry. Not only did the work revisit some of Galliano’s past fashion achievements, but it also demonstrated that the workshops of MMM could handle what he threw at them. The show started with a fawn-colored sleeveless tunic, which was patchworked together to resemble a dressmaker’s form. This cheeky debut look struck upon key expectations for both Galliano and the future of MMM – clearly the designer knew how to handle inside-out deconstruction. As the show proceeded, Galliano’s techniques were laid bare by the unfinished nature of the clothes, which dipped off the shoulder, connected sleeves to the backs of garments, tucked gloved hands into see-through pockets, and tripped down the sidelines of silhouettes in fearless, frightening, and fulsome fashion. Fabrics were luxurious and came stippled with intricate embroidery. There were bedraggled tulle tufts that sprouted from the back of a luscious mixed-media courtesan’s coat, while a true-red coat was amplified by bloated, shellacked baubles. Galliano wrapped a sumptuous tweed overlay around a satin bubble skirt, affixed drooping eyelashes to unfinished babydoll dresses, and topped a fishnet bodysuit with a cacophonous swirl of grosgrain silk ribbons. Even the more meditative looks toward the end possessed a passionate, alluring quality.
Madcap fantasy was inherent in the MMM Spring/Summer 2015 Couture show. It was as if some déshabillé countess, who whiles away her time sifting through the diminishing finery of her broken-down kingdom, had unleashed her private ravings to the masses. Amid the ruckus, there remained a calm and composed captain, steering MMM toward a brighter future.
Photos: Courtesy of Maison Martin Margiela