ICYMI: John Galliano, disgraced designer and prodigal fashion peacock, returned from fashion exile yesterday with his debut couture collection for Maison Martin Margiela. This time, though, there was none of his usual showiness—no preening in a feathered headdress, no buffalo stance in an astronaut suit. Instead: Margiela’s signature lab coat and a tentative bow.
To say there were a few eyebrows raised when Margiela appointed Galliano as creative director last October would be like saying the man’s kind of fond of a pirate hat—but not just because of the 2011 antisemitic drunk rant that got him booted from Dior and convicted of “public insults” in a French court.
Why else? Let’s break it down:
Galliano = pretty much the most flamboyant designer who ever lived.
Martin Margiela = fashion’s invisible man—rarely photographed or seen in public, elusive to the extreme.
Galliano is big into opulent, over-the-top, Victorian fashion fantasy.
Margiela has always preferred serious, recycled minimalism.
What they have in common: an appreciation for deconstructed drama and a penchant for the innovative, otherworldly avant-garde. But is that enough?
Galliano’s big, imaginative fashion brain produced a collection wrapped around the ideas of beautiful decay (sumptuous 17th-century silhouettes with trails of tattered toile, a gown of sheer yarn held together by safety pins) and severe minimalism (a mannish black tuxedo suit, a monastic floor-length velvet gown)—the first pure Galliano, the latter totes Margiela. Therein lies the problem: the fashion public is expecting both, and not enough of one or the other is bound to be a disappointment. Was it beautiful? Yes. Did it feel a little confused at times? Also yes. Did he ruin Margiela? I’m gonna go with no.
Lest we forget, this was couture, and in that world, anything goes—that’s the point. We won’t get a real idea of what the new Maison Margiela (yup, they dropped the “Martin” part) will look like under Galliano until he presents ready-to-wear in March.
So hold on to your pirate hats, #MargielaMonday was just the beginning.