“It’s too Galliano.  It’s not Margiela enough!” were the murmurings that could be heard immediately after the Maison Margiela ready to wear show, despite the raucous applause and cries for John Galliano to emerge (he did not – apparently he had even disappeared through the backdoor before journalists could even get to him).  It’s the latest round of Goldi-maison conversation where we’re quick to judge a collection based on preconceived (and often rigid) notions of what a house stands for.  As Alexander Fury pointed out in this article on BOF though, does the end customer actually care about the fit of a designer to house?  Are they even aware of the in-and-out motions of creative directors so long as a bricks and mortar presence of their brand with clothes on the racks and bags on the shelves exists.

That’s not to say I don’t care about fit or the past.  But for me it’s a positive thing that maisons have become mouldable, changeable and evolving entities.  Did people say that Balenciaga wasn’t Balenciaga enough, when Nicolas Ghesquiere was sending out 80s Star Wars-inspired sweaters?  When Raf Simons presented Kansai Yamamoto-esque psychedelic catsuits at his last haute couture Dior show there was unanimous praise but no query as to whether Monsieur Dior would have approved of these creations.  Maisons have in effect provided the corporate-backed means for some of fashion’s most innovative and forward thinking designers to show their prowess and do so on a massive stage.  Attempting to link every new collection’s connection with a maison’s past feels increasingly futile.  The question we should be asking is do we want our creative directors to replicate and tweak house codes like dutiful house-keepers or do we want them to push fashion forward on the whole, like their maison createurs did in the first place?

So then we come to John-not-Margiela-enough-Galliano’s debut at Maison Marginal.  The name Martin has already been lopped off.  One could say Margiela stopped being the Margiela that it was when the creator left the house and it came under the ownership of Renzo Rosso’s Only the Brave group.  And yet the narrative that has dogged Galliano’s return to fashion is, does he fit the house?  It has something to do with our collective attachment to the label with its relatively recently departed founding designer (even though Martin has reportedly gien his blessing to the hiring of Galliano)   But as the is-it-Galliano-slash-Margiela chit-chat murmured on after the show, I preferred to draw conclusions about the clothes, which is why I wanted to go and see it again in the showroom.

For me they stood out and in the showroom, revealed embedded features that were hard to read into on the runway.  The talking point of the show were Galliano’s madcap characters, hunch-backed and stalking down the runway like deranged bag ladies (some even clutched suede paper bags) that might give you a fright on the streets.  Their neon-ringed eyes and lips were siren signals of their eccentricity – which happened to be a key word of the season.  I’ve forgotten how many times I had written “eclectic” and “anything-goes” into show write-ups this season, especially when Paris really kicked in.  One of the key shows that really cemented this ‘trend’ was this Margiela collection with its “ephemeral muse” (re-affirmed by the press notes) where through “calculated imperfection, the individual emerges.”

The judgement that the collection was “Too Galliano!” seemed to stem primarily from these zany off-beat women, led by their clown-like demeanours rather than what they were actually wearing.  No talk of the fitted jackets with their curved exaggerated cuffs and excellent tailleur-meets-flou outerwear with extended coat linings that converted into slip dresses (you can wear them both as coats or as dresses with coats hanging off the back on the straps – and yes they’ll be sold like that).  Or the detachable sleeves that came off vinyl peacoats.  Or the visible strands of silk on the back of floral film coupe embroidery on the faintly Ossie Clark-esque dresses and blouses, sometimes trimmed with a whimsical bit of marabou.  Or the velvet suits that looked ever-alluring and keyed into the interiors-derived fabric that has decorated so many A/W 15-6 collections.  Then there were the shoes, which in the showroom looked ripe for picking – rounded ‘Tabi’ boots reshaped and adapted for Margiela 2.0, mary janes with enlarged straps and double heels and loafers with elongated tongues.

We’ll keep talking about the fit of the designer to the house but the fit of the clothes ultimately matter – and even as Galliano’s spirit raged on through those hunched shoulders and misfit swagger – it’s interesting to note that he’s already moulded his aesthetic substantially to fit Margiela.  These clothes were abound with transformation, deconstruction and hidden secrets, created through conscientious research.  Nonetheless, do we want Galliano back to tick off Margiela-isms at a house that has already undergone extreme change, or do we want him to be given a blank canvas (which Margiela arguably is anyway with its anti-code approach) to create freely?  Food for thought…

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Comments (16)

  1. Jeanne says:

    How cool and original! Impressive collection!
    ♥♥♥
    Jeanne
    http://fashionmusingsdiary.com

  2. Caitlin says:

    I love how they did the weird painted on eyelashes – they almost look like birds

  3. Thank you Susie for shedding a light on the Margiela show. I didn’t attend the show, I only saw online images of the clothes and realized once again the immense difference between understanding fashion through a screen and understanding fashion by touching the garments, figuring out the intricate details that can’t be revealed in photos.

  4. Alice says:

    Galliano is an artist! Loved this collection!

    http://fashion-soup.com/

  5. Wow, this make up and hair is quite creepy but awesome at the same time!

    http://www.katrinakaubi.blogspot.com

  6. I honestly think it wasn’t “too Galliano” – the clothes definitely have his touch and vision, which is brilliant as far as I am concerned. I also believe that Galliano makes a wonderful fit for the house because he, unlike many other designers, understands the past and present of fashion, the aesthetics of Margiela clothes, and is able to adjust and mould it all with great respect – bring the past into the future whilst making it suitable for the times, in other words.

    Plus he really does know how to design and how to make those perfectly structured and embellished pieces.

    Even the exist – the fact that he left without showing up – that good old Margiela mystery thing of “the ghost, anonymous designer”…

    It’s a real shame that some so-called fashion lovers/brand customers can’t see beyond the make-up – I guess, money can’t buy everything, after all…

  7. Esty says:

    I was so sad when I heard that Galliano was becoming head designer for Maison Martin Margiela. I can appreciate the result. But for me an era ended of being a loyal fan for many years, even after when Renzo Rosso took over. Yes, I can see the qualities of the two Galliano collections. But these are such polished and loud looking clothes that scream ‘I am expensive’. It will give me nothing of the former understated, effortless cool. I loved the private jokes of the designs, most of the times only meant for the wearer or the very keen observer. I can understand why people state that Galliano is not Margiela enough. Galliano’s sensuous and extravert Margiela is juxtaposed to Martin Margiela’s intellectual and introvert clothing. These approaches are just irreconcilable. Moldable houses can be good for creativity. However, they certainly will loose clients during their transformations. Luckily new designers will arise elsewhere that can give these lost customers the same feeling of butterflies in their stomach. For a former margiela addict that’s Vetements right now. And the Internet helps to stock up on timeless pieces from earlier Margiela collections.

  8. I like this collection…it’s like a mix between vivienne westwood, and alexander McQueen!!
    XOX, Gap.
    http://www.gaptoothedgirl.com

  9. Gabriela says:

    Love this collection! This carmel coat <3

    http://www.kolorowadusza.com

  10. Jacqueline says:

    I love it. I think JG has infused MM with some needed vibrancy while keeping elements of the MM signature, although I’d love to see the collection up close also.
    I like Margiela’s commercial collections that I see in store (I’ve never seen his runway shows) – the quirky details on mostly very wearable clothes, however I believed this was going to be a good fusion of two seemingly diametrically opposed (style wise) designers. In the merging of those two opposites I felt that something magical and new for both of them could come out of it. I can’t wait to see this new collection in store. Eyeing off the tailored coats and jackets already! Nice post – thanks Susie.

  11. Adele says:

    I loved the insight you provided into what actually went on during the presentation- and as usual you’ve captured all the details
    I think perhaps the makeup was very Galliano and his aesthetic is at odes with what Maison Margiela represents

    I did like this collection but I am not enthused about his return to fashion- if an artist is problematic in their personal life or what they say, then it detracts from the quality of their art

    http://secret-hipster.blogspot.com.au/

  12. Sophia says:

    It did look very Galliano, but that can only be expected when such a strong designer takes over. He has to infuse the brand with a bit of his own aesthetic, while also keeping the house in mind. Lovely post and insights.
    ~Sophia
    http://plaidismyfavouritecolour.blogspot.com/

  13. Stephanie J says:

    I’m not a fan of the makeup! The clothing is nice & wearable.

    http://candyluxx.com/

  14. Day Tops says:

    This is quite creepy i really like it at the same time
    how cool and impressive

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