John Galliano has settled into his role at Maison Margiela, or at least that’s the feeling you get when surveying his Fall/Winter 2016 collection. After a little over a year at the helm of the brand, Galliano has got house codes and philosophies down pat, and he has reached new levels of comfort when it comes to synthesizing his vision with that of his predecessor. This was evidenced by a collection of new uniforms that carried with them codes from the past, a nod to Margiela’s love of recycling and reconstituting materials. The purity and minimalism of Margiela’s aesthetic was upheld by military outerwear, while his signature deconstructionist methods were honored with tacked-on sportswear elements. Of course, this was all done in grand Galliano style, by conjuring the plain and the absurd together onto looks that were both deshabillé and divine.
John Galliano has settled into his role at Maison Margiela, or at least that’s the feeling you get when surveying his FW16 collection.
Although many designers this season have preferred the “piled-on” method of stacking together odd and disparate elements into a single look, Galliano has been perfecting this technique forever. His layering modules – which could be shifted or assembled in different equations – consisted of tailored outerwear in military greens and khakis, a huge array of knitwear, and overlays in translucent material. They were mixed and matched together in almost random sequences whereby each look represented samplings of the flat and utilitarian, the cozy and enveloping, and the lurid and shiny. Although it may sound maniacal, there were so many beautiful pieces in the collection that Galliano’s hodge-podge styling acted as a gateway for further exploration, forcing you to look closer. On the extremely wearable and saleable side were a variety of knee-length fitted skirts in mahogany leather, buffalo plaid, navy wool, and disco glitter, as well as cropped trousers with shearling trim on the outseam and swishy track pants that were cropped at the shin. Outerwear was minimal and strong, exemplified by one seriously covetable distressed leather cape with thick shearling trim.
Galliano’s surrealist stuff is sometimes hard to swallow, but not this time around. Enormous belts with buckles that were actually gilded baroque picture frames were featured accessories in the collection, as was a variety of (sometimes mismatching) boots and leather clogs. Atop many of the looks came luminous overlays, often in peacock hues, that were worn like aprons over multi-striped knitwear or twisted at the throat into shapes resembling flowing tunics. Some looks were just plainly odd, as in the case of a preppy polo, the surface of which was encroached by a tidal spill of cartoon mice, or when Galliano tacked a polo onto the front of a knit dress, recalling Joseph Beuys’ empty suit. Many of the looks featured Perspex brooches in the shape of body parts and facial elements, which were inspired by the works of Henri Matisse. For all of the juxtaposition of fabrics and textures, for all of the schizophrenic accessorizing and color pairings, we can’t help but ask what Galliano was saying with this collection. Maybe it’s something as simple as, “I’ve got this maison on lock.”