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  • Written by Eli Jullo

MAISON MARGIELA HAUTE COUTURE SS24: FASHION FANTASY IS BACK




It was under the first full moon of the year, on Thursday 25th of January, that John Galliano’s hauntingly seductive show through the prism of Margiela marked the conclusion of the Paris Haute Couture week.


In an eerie bar under the Pont Alexandre III, between broken pieces of glass, dusty mirrors and eclectic sofas, the Brassaï inspired voyeuristic ambience of Paris, set the tone for what was about to follow. Lost somewhere in between time and space, the show opened with a black & white video projection, succeeded by a striking appearance of Margela’s muse, Leon Dame in a tight corset and large suit pants. The dramatic silhouettes paraded down the runway, arms held up by imaginary puppet strings while each look embodied a different character.


The transformation of models into living theatrical characters was executed with precision, featuring glossy porcelain-skinned makeup, rouge lips, and bird's nest hairstyles. Perhaps reminiscent of an era that epitomized extravagance and creativity, the longtime iconic duo of Galliano and Pat McGrath pushed the show to its most iconic.


Every detail, from intricate lace to exaggerated hourglass silhouettes and meticulously hand-stitched beads resembling droplets of water, resonated with an undeniable sense of drama.


The doll-like characters were all brought to life in seductive ways, wearing distraught and stained fabrics conveying a sense of wear and tear from life’s passing. The meticulously calculated details were a result of months of preparation, revealing the deceptive nature of appearances. From soaked silicone made to look as though the fabric had been rained on and aquarelle printed tool made to look sun-faded or tobacco-stained, as well as the ‘porcelain’ neck pieces made in leather, technique was merely a representation of the unconscious gestures shaped by experiences. Even real hair was collected and upcycled into the looks. With an impressive array of 15 different experimental techniques to construct the costumes, Galliano pushed the standards of fashion shows to their original essence, namely that they are indeed shows.


They walked as though they had been captivated by another universe, which only left the audience trying to catch their fleeting gaze, to try to join them in their fashion fantasy. Gwendoline Christie, in a transparent plastic-like latex, brought the show to a close, leaving the audience in a standing ovation. Not only did Galliano make us witness his fantasy, but he actively invited the audience to dream again, and put at the forefront of our attention: the clothes, the craftsmanship, the fashion fantasy, reinstating the essence of fashion shows and their ability to transport us to the realms of creativity and wonder.


The show went viral as a revival of 90’s couture with the likes of Alexander McQueen and Thierry Mugler who had marked generations with their grandiose productions, celebrating fashion as a pure creative expression. Galliano himself was an iconic reference back then, he was fashion’s enfant terrible but had stayed discrete since leaving Dior. Until now, marking this show as the return of Galliano, the theatrical and creative genius. But this leaves us wondering what the DNA of future fashion houses might be and the role of the creative director.


Without context this could have easily been a 90’s Galliano show, from the set design to choreography, to costumes, makeup and of course the drama. While the collection was strikingly beautiful and yes the show was praised for including actual curvy models and diversity in casting. The use of corsetry was particularly unsettling. With a show, so deeply referenced to history, art and culture, one could think that the corset and its part in the collection would have been seriously measured. But it seems like we went back in time, using an item of wardrobe so deeply embedded in the history of objectifying women to show hourglass figures and sometimes fully nude women as dolls.


Now perhaps this was intended to serve as a critique of how people modify their bodies with surgery and digital imagery. Inspired by prints of fashion caricatures made popular after the printing press, this could be Galliano’s way to joke about fashion and the idea that people would go to extremes.


Nevertheless, Galliano has left an indelible mark on the current season and those to come, infusing excitement back into fashion shows and reiterating their endless creative possibilities in an era where fashion often succumbs to mere consumerism.




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