“The bourgeois gesture” has occupied John Galliano’s thoughts of late, beginning with the Maison Margiela Artisanal collection he showed in January. For ready-to-wear, he continued that investigation with grace and quiet power.
Galliano worked from familiar baselines, starting with uniform codes of dressing, integrating the signature regalia of leisure disciplines — fishing, hiking, sailing — as well as those of social uniforms, as in a proper lady’s pretty dress or pussy-bow blouse or a sturdy coat, tossed over the shoulders.
In his podcast, he referred to his approach as “restorative,” and said, “I like the idea of maybe kick-starting a consciousness into enjoying these gestures.” Familiar codes, he maintains, restore a sense of belonging. He opened with a series of outerwear elements, “memory of” coats distilled down to a collar and facings attached to a sheer base or a single colorful, abundant sleeve and bow-neck collar. These went over dresses worn in layers, transparent tulle or chiffon over a “base dress” in silk. Later, he showed full coats in ample proportions, some in a solid color and some, spliced together, as if halves of two separate garments.
Galliano’s unparalleled skill was on full display in looks in which he utilized what he calls “work-in-progress” technique, and it is indeed that. At times it has resulted in looks that are wondrous but runway-only; here, the pieces looked well-suited for transition to real life. In fact, that was one of the glories of this collection; for all the complications of cut, and de- and reconstruction, Galliano achieved a compelling attitude of ease. Part of the comforting allure came from the palette, an exquisite amalgam of blues, greens and oranges, inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper.
The concept of “restoration” didn’t begin and end with Galliano’s invocation of bourgeois codes. Rather, it took on a literal meaning with his ”Recicla” initiative, actual vintage pieces he and his team sourced and integrated into the collection, sometimes as a single item, and sometimes incorporated into other items, as with dresses cut open over vintage cashmere sweaters. Each upcycled piece will come with a label explaining its age and provenance; that on a red wool coat panel reads, in part: “Limited Edition: Unique Piece…Provenance: Avenue de Clichy, Paris (elsewhere : rue Jules Vallès, Paris); Period: Early 1980.”
Galliano noted in his podcast that such upcycling serves a dual purpose. First, it references Martin Margiela’s early embrace of vintage items that he would replicate in his collections, and it speaks to the need for fashion to slow down, while “giving something another life.” On Galliano’s watch, that second fashion life radiated chic currency.