Hear that? That’s the sound of the fashion world taking a collective sigh of relief after John Galliano’s long-anticipated debut collection for Maison Martin Margiela unveiled yesterday, off-schedule, during London’s Menswear Collections. The internet was abuzz with endless appearances of #MargielaMonday and praise for the Basquiat-evoking Artisanal collection. Journalists and commentators expressed pleasant surprise at the results of the unlikely pairing, applauding the famed (and disgraced) designer’s artful execution of Margiela’s deconstructionist techniques and use of found objects, while still remaining faithful to his trademark opulence.
I was wary of this partnership from the get-go. Aside from his penchant for racist remarks, Galliano didn’t strike me as the most obvious fit for Margiela. Of course, fashion revels in unexpected combinations, and I wasn’t prepared to write this off based on a weird sense of protectiveness I felt towards Margiela and what little I knew of John Galliano’s rich history as a designer. After seeing the collection, my initial reaction was bewilderment, which was soon followed by intrigue. No, this isn’t exactly the Margiela we knew before. But is that a bad thing? As much as I love the hyper-clinical minimalism and androgyny that’s synonymous with Margiela, true growth involves venturing off brand from time to time. There were moments in the collection that veered a little too far off-course—the fishnet stockings and black bustier of the third look made me feel physically ill—but there were also moments that showed incredible promise. Especially stunning was the red coat with a 3D face on the front made from conch shells and acrylic paint. The floor length velvet column dress appealed to my personal tastes the most—apparently the back is even more jaw-dropping. I loved the models’ disheveled hairdos and the dainty pearls decorating their noses. And of course, that insane final look with the most intricate (and very Margiela) skull mask, making the model look like a beautiful, mummified queen.
To the unobservant, the Margiela connection in these garments isn’t immediately clear. After all, Galliano’s grand flourishes and ostentatiousness are hard to ignore. But a closer look reveals Galliano’s thoughtful hand in the construction of the clothes and in the execution of the cult brand’s core values. It’s clear that the designer did his homework. There are still some kinks to work out, but the important thing is that I’m anticipating, instead of dreading, what Galliano has in store for us at Maison Martin Margiela.
What did you think about the show? Be sure to comment below with your thoughts!
Images via The Cut