Trust to blow you away. Nearing the end of a season where designers from to have coated their collections in sequins and waxed lyrical about bringing back long-lost glamour, this designer simply found it in our everyday surroundings. “We’re appropriating the inappropriate,” he said in a preview of his Maison Margiela collection on proenza schouler spring bag 2018 Sunday. If it sounds complex it wasn’t at all—in fact, this was the clearest message Galliano has presented since he joined the house in 2015, thematically and visually.
John Galliano in Vogue
“A woman misses that rush of sugar,” he explained, referring to these unglamorous times, “so she’ll throw things on that are inappropriate and wear them for evening.” Case in point: a rose-patterned jacquard towel he had draped as a skirt, a melia floral tourist shirt bonded to a formal jacket, or a red riding jacket cut into a bustier. Galliano referred to his inspirations as “glamorous pastimes—flying, treatments in spas, horse-riding,” and you could only begin to wonder through what airport, on what flight to which health resort his otherworldly eyes had seen something the rest of us wouldn’t. During seating at the Grand Palais before the show, Maison Margiela played a soundtrack of airport announcements, setting the tone.
Why Fashion Needs Galliano
At the airport, that hectic hotspot of chaos, externalised stress and languages lost in translation, Galliano identified a new meaning of glamour. “The glamour of travelling,” he declared. It’s what Maison Margiela calls “unconscious glamour”: throwing on a coat and a belt over your pyjamas to run a late-night errand, wrapping a towel around you after a shower, or as Galliano suggested, “the tension that’s created in airports where one wants to be anonymous, so we all wear sunglasses.” He paid homage to unsung airport heroes in various baggage stickers brilliantly interweaved in collars of jackets and pleats of skirts--and 'priority', 'first class' and 'gold' tags tied to ponytails and accessories.
Vogue Festival: John Galliano
The collection drew on the idea of proposing a new glamour, a topic initially visited by Maison Margiela in its Artisanal collection for haute couture in July. Exercising his double-edged Midas touch, it was where Galliano made rippled organza creations look like corrugated cardboard and imbued everyday humble trench coats with “memories of glamour”: the suggestion of a stocking top, a décolleté, a red lip. He filtered those elements into his ready-to-wear collection, too. Plissé soleil – sun-ray pleating a la Marilyn Monroe – found its way into dresses, jackets and even a trench coat, and bras were worn as outerwear, virtually turned into jewellery with underwire and pearl embellishment.
Using the decortiqué technique through which a garment is cut down to the very structure that holds it together – now a regular part of Maison Margiela’s repertoire – Galliano skeletised a plain white T-shirt and trimmed it in white plume, creating the simplest and most glamorous accessory. Or what about his new bag, the Glam Slam, a soft-as-butter quilted white lambskin number that looked like models were carrying a pillow through the airport.
Ingenuity doesn’t begin to cover what Galliano is doing at Maison Margiela right now. If they weren’t all wearing white lab coats already – the house uniform – the image of a scientist conjuring up magic in that converted convent building in the 11th arrondissement wouldn’t be an understatement for the repurposing and, in essence, innovation that’s coming out of this brand at the hand of John Galliano. It’s against Maison Margiela’s rules of anonymity, but sometimes you’d wish he’d come out for a bow just so he could take in the applause.
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