The wonky, pieced together wooden doors at the end of the runway were the backdrop for Maison Margiela. But the way John Galliano developed his long-held belief in the beauty of the unfinished and undone was the designer’s own.
Add some discreet references to his past and some contemporary statements of protest and this seemed like a confident step forward in melding Galliano’s own vision and that of the original Martin Margiela, who gave up his role in the house in 2009.
From Galliano’s opening outfits of flamboyant deconstruction, to the silk that filtered in and out of the designs, there was a sense of control, even elegance.
Maison Margiela, with its vivid reds but controlled shapes, seemed to be facing in the right direction.
“This collection is about adding filters, but as much about removing them and sharing as about connecting with a community, becoming part of a union and relating through mutual emotions rooted in memories,” Galliano said in one of his opaque comments. The words cannot be challenged or explained as the designer no longer comes out at the end of his shows nor discusses his work.
However, there was clarity in this spring/summer 2017 artisanal approach, with some dresses beautifully cut and finished. But more were only half done, carrying an emotional tie to Galliano’s past. Those links became literal in the strands holding a garment together.
There were also painted, printed or embroidered words, vague and incomplete, as if the designer had gone back to his roots in the unfinished and undone.
Perhaps the most beautiful piece was a tall South American-style felt hat above an all-white coat that was swathed in sheer black chiffon decorated with a face. This seemed like couture as theatre, but also as absolute elegance.
I would have liked to have seen some overt references to Martin Margiela, particularly with the Belgian designer’s upcoming exhibition about his design years at Hermès that opens at the end of March at the Mode Museum in Antwerp.
Yet this Paris show definitely seemed like a step forward for Galliano at Margiela, hovering between reality and dream with a fine balance between heritage and the new.