This post Cali-funk ends today. As haute couture in Paris quickly segued into my holiday, I’ve lagged behind a bit on thoughts on the remainder of the week. I wanted to revisit John Galliano’s second show Artisanal show for Maison Margiela in particular for its all-angles, all-encompassing eclecticism. Experimental, expressive and even non-sensical in some places, it was certainly a contrasting side to the couture coin, where a designer quite literally dons a white lab coat and the atelier becomes a laboratory. Even the haphazard painted masks and metallic flecks around the eyes of the models suggested a delicious sort of exploration. In essence, Galliano is approaching the Artisanal collections with the enthusiastic appetite of a fashion student. Not one that is learning his/her craft. Galliano has that down pat. What I mean is that there’s a youthful exuberance in the way that Galliano is dissecting and reconstructing Margiela tropes. The collection doesn’t run “on theme”. Nor does it claim to appear obvious and revealing. In this way, Galliano taps into a facet of haute couture that we, the spectator might nod immediately “get” – there are meant to be secrets embedded into haute couture that’s intended for the wearer, and the wearer only. And so here silhouettes and shapes are still hidden by drapes, folds and secondary garments like coat jackets hanging off the back of slip dresses or asymmetric kimonos exploding with sashes of fabric. Sleeves, cuffs and pockets are misplaced deceptively. A blush pink neoprene opera coat arches into wing like sleeves and picked out by a cobalt blue boxy obi at the back.
Territories and eras are misplaced too. French needlepoint embroidery sits next to painted brown hessian sacks. There’s equality to be found in green lurex cocooning a figure and lavish kimono silks and white polythene and construction mesh used to make the finale bridal gowns. The decorative becomes distressed. The austere is secretly adorned. The masculine is bashed over with a vanity mirror. The polite is invaded by a rampant leaf motif. Chunky knits are twisted with gold. Just as Galliano is flipping the coin on couture, so it is that he’s exposing contradicting facets to what is supposedly luxurious. What’s the product of rambunctious energy? Something a bit random and a bit bricolaged as opposed to being masterminded and strategised but above all, also something that feels like a genuine creative expression.