Although the shadow of his past continues to follow him, John Galliano’s work at Maison Margiela is more than a cathartic outlet. In many ways, he is a kindred spirit to the legendarily anonymous designer, capable of lifting the most disheveled, artisan aesthetic to levels both futuristic and of the moment. For Spring/Summer 2016, there is a clear sense of the future at work in the collection, but small elements of the past keep the thread of time weaving in and out of the presentation. Leopard-print collars reminiscent of the 1950s are tacked onto textured coats, which feature moth-eaten nibbles taken out along the hemline, while other looks sport the delicate disarray of brooch embellishments, prints, cutout pockets, metallic obi belts, and fishnet bodysuits. The effect is a little dizzying when viewed in the rush of the runway.
The first half of the collection has a distinct rockabilly/thrift-shop vibe. There are tattered argyle sweaters pricked with studded necklines, crumpled skirts made from transparent material, and dresses featuring sheer fabric embossed with cascading metallic petals that resemble shattered glass. His party girl is broke, but still fabulous, which is evidenced by the enormous tote bags and elbow-length gloves she drags with her everywhere. More traditional fashions come in the form of meadow-green suiting and marble-print jackets, which eventually lead to the Asian-inspired portion of the collection. Galliano’s favored kimono shapes are treated as bulky separates featuring liquid-leather skirts and oversized appliqué decorations, and obi belts are replaced by brightly colored cords that are tied just above the bosom.
For the first time in ages, John Galliano is giving interviews, speaking out about his struggles with addiction and his tortured upbringing. His latest collection for Maison Margiela places a uniquely biographical spin on his signature off-kilter aesthetic, one that is parallel to that of another tragic figure: Amy Winehouse. It’s all there in the beehives, the bruised, azure makeup, the plastic wrap that often accompanies a fresh tattoo, the strappy shoes that resembled ankle monitors, and the vintage-inspired clothes that could have been plucked from Winehouse’s tour wardrobe. Perhaps the comparison is unintentional, but it couldn’t be clearer to an outsider looking in. They tried to make Winehouse go to rehab and she said no-no-no, but Galliano has obviously benefitted from treatment, and his resurrected career and flourishing collections are evidence to that fact.
Photos: Courtesy of Imaxtree