Home Fashion John Galliano triumphs at Maison Margiela to close Paris couture

John Galliano triumphs at Maison Margiela to close Paris couture


Maison Margiela completed the Paris haute couture season on Thursday night with a sensational collection by John Galliano and a spellbinding show – a brilliant vision of Parisian history that would have delighted Balzac or Victor Hugo.

Maison Margiela Haute Couture Spring 2024 – FNW

The audience stamped their feet and applauded almost deafeningly at the finale, beseeching Galliano to take a bow. Though, maintaining a tradition began by the house’s founder Martin Margiela, who never took a bow and avoiding being photographed, Galliano remained behind a golden curtain in the backstage.
Presented inside a vaulted warehouse right underneath Pont Alexandre III, the show starred a series of French and far-fetched archetypes – curvy courtesans, Moulin Rouge molls, beseeching dolls, late night gamblers and cat burglars. 

All of whom emoted, gyrated and pirouetted around the set of cheap chairs, scruffy café tables, police wanted posters, broken lights and a battered pool table. And before bistro mirrors, which turned into flat screens; the better to appreciate an impassioned opening performance by French singer and Freddie Mercury doppelganger, Lucky Love. He had roamed the space in a gent’s top-coat pre-show, before stripping down to reveal his torso, and missing left arm, to start singing his cult hit ‘Now I Don’t Need Your Love’.
Before the screens suddenly projected a crime drama and jewelry heist – stilettos on broken glass, couples tying themselves up in their corsets, and a thief presenting the heroine with a pearl necklace inside a dingy Latin Quarter brasserie.
Then, the action went life. With the arrival of a young shirtless dandy in pleated pants and a micro waist corset. Emoting along the Seine in the teeming rain, to march under the arches of Paris’ most beautiful bridge. Spinning before a further 50 guests outside at bistro tables before entering the warehouse.
Several associates were right out of Pigalle a century ago: a WWI veteran turned spiv’ with military medals, who recalled Johnny Depp in ‘Alice in Wonderland’, or burlesque dancers that would have excited Toulouse-Lautrec.

Maison Margiela Haute Couture Spring 2024 – FNW

With waxy makeup and deranged eyes, the cast felt like the ghosts of the Seine, or the denizens who still sleep along the banks of the river today, many of them under this very bridge where the show was held.
An almost hallucinatory work of performance art, with padded cocoon jackets covered in shards and strands of tulle; or gold satin dresses with bustles worthy of a Venetian courtesan.
All the way to a remarkable decayed countess in a corrugated cardboard gown and bonnet, echoing Galliano’s famed 1984 ‘Les Incroyables’ graduation show that referenced Palais Royal during the French Revolution. Or a trio of burlesque dancers in see-through black negligees over hand-painted abstract expressionist body stockings. Their faces smeared. Their crooked hats tied in knots.
In among the madness were many brilliant clothes: for gals, supremely sexy knitted and beaded columns, scrunched up herringbone wool blazers or see-through corset dresses that will be hugely influential. All paired with degrade tights, surely another new trend. Stuffing coming out of the tights, as if these Margiela mavens were old worn dolls.
For guys, divinely cut Demob’ chalk-stripe suits; swaggering great coats; worn by reprobates with motorbike goggles.


Maison Margiela Haute Couture Spring 2024 – FNW

Climaxing with Gwendoline Christie in a latex like crinoline over a Delph blue corset, with her neck and hands covered – like other ladies – in a porcelain neck collar and skeleton shaped gloves.
In an otherwise safe couture season, with more attention devoted to the front-row and not the catwalk, it felt irrelevant that Kris and Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian witnessed the show.
Three decades ago, in Sao Schlumberger’s mansion in St. Germain, an almost bankrupt Galliano staged one of the greatest fashion moments of the 90s. I was among a handful of people in tonight’s audience who attended that beguiling meeting of Japanese Zen and cool Chinoiserie. Today, on the banks of the Seine, John staged the best fashion moment in couture so far this decade.
In between, John was unceremoniously fired by Christian Dior in 2011, after making that house a giant fortune over a decade. For an appallingly ugly drunken rant outside his apartment that went viral, he paid an enormously heavy price: Dior gave him zero compensation; the French establishment stripped him of his Legion of Honor; and he was the target of vicious attacks in tabloid media. 
So, tonight felt like his final resurrection. Like the cast of this show surviving and winning by dint of their rebellion and sheer audacity. Another reason for the tumultuous applause and stomping of feet at the finale.
Resurrexit Sicut Dixit.

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