John Galliano’s sophomore artisanal collection for Maison Margiela was unlike anything conceived at Paris Couture Week for Fall 2015. Centered on a theme of “accidental and unconscious glamour”, the calculated artistry of his work was anything but an accident.
Galliano’s vision defied the conservative values of couture. Where other designers embraced the glitz of the season with enormous glittering ball gowns, Galliano transformed bizarre elements, like burlap sacks, into sartorial sculptures and spruced them up with equally strange decorative dollops of wheat, ginger root, and carved soap. With references to the Post-Impressionists running rampant throughout, the elevated notions of the collection spoke to the intelligence behind Galliano’s artistic cause. This was furthered by the surprising inclusion of male models in the show, a move that opposed long-standing couture tradition. In separating himself from the pack, Galliano assured a buzzworthy show that relied solely on spectacular clothing rather than the spectacle of fame and money. Even his seating was arranged so that everyone was able to sit front row.
John Galliano’s vision defied the conservative values of couture.
Twenty-six looks represent a fraction of what bigger houses showed at Couture Week, but each was so deftly developed as to be ten times more impactful. For example, the smooth, unblemished perfection of a floor-length coat made from pristine neoprene was a wonder to behold, but viewed from the back — where a Klein-blue stuffed attachment rested between the shoulderblades — it took on otherworldly form. The simplest looks employed multiple elements of surprise, from deconstructed slip dresses with random panels of extra fabric fluttering from the center to wool separates upon which emerald silk origami confections stuck to the front like barnacles to a ship. Stuffy British tweed saw new form when affixed with reflective mirrors, slashed fringe, and dégradé patches, while a simple beige Alpaca column dress was fitted with a shocking lime-green halter strap. Sumptuous looks that cocooned the figure were among the more delightful looks, especially in the case of a sparkling emerald-green coat and a billowing silk dress painted with flowers. Burlap — perhaps the least glamorous of all fabrics — was rendered into dress form and appointed with Impressionist needlepoint scenery, while neoprene suits were painted with abstract shapes. These same shapes were transferred directly onto the models who not only lent their bodies to the clothes but also their skin as canvas for strange “peeling paint” motifs.
To end the chapter on Galliano’s insane combinations and mind-bending construction was the final look — a “bride” swaddled in a thick taffeta gown that was hemmed with enormous pillowy tubes of plastic. Galliano’s defiance of tradition won us over, but it was this final act of rebellion (plastic bridalwear on a couture runway?!) that reaffirmed the refreshingly unconventional nature of his second collection for Margiela.
Photos: Courtesy of Imaxtree