Maison Margiela: Body Scan
A quiet fashion triumph can happen for an unexpected reason. The death of Simone Veil, the staunch supporter of women and a revered politician, required the Maison Margiela show to move away from its usual location inside the Invalides building, where the solemn ceremony was now to take place in the Pantheon.
But sometimes an unexpected disruption can be good. Margiela’s designer, John Galliano, decided to take the show “home,” meaning the building in the edgy 11th arrondissement where designer Martin Margiela had built the brand.
The result was the most successful presentation that Galliano has made so far ‒ and not only because of the details of the cut and the playful fashion games, including transparency. But also because, like the rest of the world, he seemed more relaxed on his own turf.
The furniture, left as a group of chairs around a table bearing bone china, Galliano’s drawings on the wall, and the staff in the stairwell wearing their traditional Margiela lab coats all added to a feeling of ease. And although the once-disgraced designer did not take a bow, it can surely only be a matter of time before he does.
The collection was based on a belted coat, but that could mean many things: a mannish trench, in its traditional beige, the sash tied to shape the waist. Or a similar cut for a rubbery, semi-transparent coat, part artistic, part fetishistic.
Galliano was certainly opening up the body, perhaps with a cutout area around the central spine. Or at the front, where a focus on bosoms included circular “pasties” or just sweeping curves.
“I was inspired by the idea of a new glamour,” said Galliano in his show notes. The Margiela designer added that he had looked at symbols of enchantment and empowerment to be found in a definite “defiant décolleté, a sharp red lip, or the brazen seam of a stocking.”
It would have been simple for Galliano to turn everything into a seductive story. But this time at Margiela, he got everything in simple proportions with few exaggerations.
The show notes were almost too informative. It is not ultimately the techniques that count, but the final effect. And in this witty and imaginative collection, its colors mainly black, white, and a blush shade, the gilded boots alone showed that Maison Margiela had struck gold.
Viktor & Rolf: Surreal Reality
The figures walking down the runway had heads so large that the models underneath might have tipped over on the catwalk.
These lollipop ladies were well dressed, as toys go, in their green nylon anorak fabric coaxed into a high-waisted, full-skirted, little girl party dress. Everything at this Viktor & Rolf show was handmade in a couture atelier.
Variations on the theme encompassed frills and flowers: squashy, puffy body coverings were matched with flower-patterned skirts and decorated jeans.
It was the denim that was the link between the alien creatures and the models who took over the runway halfway through the show. They wore similar frilly nylon tops with the patterned denim trousers.
It was a typical concept from Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren: enhanced reality done as a statement to the fashion world ‒ with, on the other side, plenty to wear and to sell. Their concept is odd, but smart.
In their solemn way, the duo explained the story. “How surreal reality is these days,” they chorused. “We reflect on that in a playful way so the dolls are like Viktor & Rolf mascots.”