There’s a discernible character imprint emerging at John Galliano’s Maison Margiela. He or she has a fluid sexuality and their own kooky gestures. They’re beings that aren’t of this world and they’re unapologetic about their weirdness. A number of menswear and haute couture collections have been paying homage to David Bowie, but Galliano has been sending his starmen-slash-women down the runway for a while now. At the Maison’s latest Artisanal show, that character, with their alien and collaged hybrid garments and their non-uniform hair and make-up, really anchored Galliano as a creator of haute couture for the misfits of this world. Misfit couture might sound like an oxymoron, but it’s clear that Galliano has grasped the raison d’être of the Artisanal line, as it continues to stand splendidly in contrast with the other conventional haute couture entities.
To an infectious fairground-sounding of Edith Piaf’s “Mon Manège à Moi” (You’re My Carousel), Galliano sent us on his very own carousel of sumptuous fabrics, whirring and colliding with one another in rips, explosions and unexpected bursts. Fil coupé jacquard, lamé, and rich brocades were deliberately contrasted with white dense georgettes and unique textiles like a woven ash wood silk. A seemingly conventional polo knitted shirt dress would suddenly break out into a loud floral print and later on, an MA-1 bomber jacket would expand into richness, looking like Japanese samurai’s horo cloaks. In keeping with the Artisanal collection’s well-travelled fabrics, Ottoman Topkapi and Korean paper patterns purposely jarred with rugged flannel checks and what were described as “inoffensive” vintage tees.
“It’s clear that Galliano has grasped the raison d’être of the Artisanal line, as it continues to stand spendidly in contrast with the other conventional haute couture entities”
The feet were wedged firmly into the ground with some standout boots that featured airbrushed graphics or tied up silk scarves. And to go with these weird and wonderful collages, Galliano’s longtime collaborators Eugene Souleiman and Pat McGrath adorned the face and hair with surreal glitter lips, glam-rock meets manga character spiked up hair and yes, a touch of the Ziggy Stardust.
When Margiela began showing their Artisanal line as part of the haute couture fashion week schedule back in 2006, garments were hung on mannequins and deliberately kept faceless. In contrast, Galliano has given Margiela’s Artisanal inhabitant a distinctive identity and a sense of individualism. Piaf’s voice trilling “You make my head spin” in French, is an apt reaction to the tour de force of Galliano at Maison Margiela.