Maison Margiela staged its coed show at the tail end of men’s fashion week at its stately new headquarters on the Place des États-Unis in Paris. Guests were invited to follow a floor path of yellow footprints with the house’s telltale split-toe Tabi silhouette to discover an “immersive exhibition.”
It opened with a quirkily dressed couple driving a vintage American car through an atrium wall, moved on to nurse-like figures in hospital-scrub-green outfits stood a white latex room, and climaxed with scenes from the inscrutable road movie “Cinema Inferno” that Margiela creative director John Galliano had created for the Artisanal fall 2022 couture collection.
Consider the runway show that ensued five floors up as the sequel to “Cinema Inferno,” when that film’s “fugitive protagonists” Count and Hen had put down their guns and finished raising their family, sons and daughters equally comfortable wearing Western shirts, frothy dresses, infantile rompers, corsets and flaring opera coats.
“The offspring of Count’s aristocratic influence and the false pretentions of Hen’s upbringing, it is a cross-pollination embodied by the contemporary spirit of young rebels with a conscience,” the show notes explained. “The collection examines youth-centric ideas of customization and the re-contextualization of memories.”
It’s been a few years since Galliano has staged a proper runway show, and it was a treat to see models free their hips and facial muscles to portray intriguing characters that flirt, storm and sashay down the runway. Model Leon Dame, whose exaggerated, scissoring walk went viral after a Margiela show in 2019, this time twisted forward squinting, as if tightening into a fierce wind.
After a menswear season of pared-down looks, the eye raced to discern and appreciate the disparate elements — grunge, Hollywood glamour, showgirl glitz and cowboy grit — Galliano threw together in a practice he has branded “dressing in haste.”
The flaring coats were gorgeous in their enveloping stiffness and grandeur, some in bold chintz upholstery fabrics and others very soigné in rich cloqué fabrics. The tulle dresses and skirts, with random ruffles and collaged with other fabrics, were arresting in coloration and shape.
It was harder to discern the menswear message, for Galliano long ago ditched binaries for something more freewheeling. There were handsome, oversized coats and plaid shirts with giant Pendleton labels amid the jumble of pencil skirts, short shorts, backward shirts, frilly blouses and Mickey Mouse T-shirts, part of an official collaboration with The Walt Disney Company.
This collection was also more Galliano than Margiela, harkening back to the British fashion maverick’s early heydays in London — and all the better for it: It dazzled with dressmaking wizardry and rebellious energy in equal measure.