The review originally appeared as part of the story “Maison Margiela, Lanvin and Dries Van Noten RTW Spring 2017.” Read the full story here.

“Familiarity must be unsettled.”

A tough one to disagree with if you work in fashion, yet it happens all too infrequently. The statement comes from the show notes of John Galliano’s latest show for Maison Margiela — a heady exploration of creative unsettling — but it applies to fashion in general.

Too often today, the fashion of fashion gets short shrift, treated as something other than the main event, its primary value to fuel social media or be available to buy right now. But then we hit Paris, and all seems possible. John Galliano for Maison Margiela, Bouchra Jarrar for Lanvin and Dries Van Noten all showed collections that unsettled familiarity or expectations. For that matter, so, too, did Rihanna, who in her manner of showing her Fenty Puma by Rihanna collection and the clothes themselves – a romancing of ath-leisure-cum-lingerie – proved that a pop star show doesn’t have to be God-awful. Rihanna’s line was the anti-Roosevelt Island.

Sartorially speaking, unsettling familiarity isn’t easy. But creatively speaking, Galliano has never taken it easy. He wouldn’t think of it. He takes existing elements — current, historical, fantastical — and others of his own invention, and turns them into a kind of wondrous chic all his own. His is emotional fashion rooted in vivid imagination, endless research, skilled execution and most of all, a stratospheric level of talent. For spring, Galliano challenged our reading of the familiar in a collection that was compelling to watch, interesting, sometimes to the point of quizzical, and glamorous in ways obvious and out-there.

Don’t think of Galliano as an ath-leisure kind of guy? As with anything, it’s not the reference, it’s what you do with it. Galliano worked elements of sport in with other basics — trenchcoat, LBD, workwear, shirtings — in ways that made you rethink each one. Case in point: the trench, shown over and over, worn like a coat or slung around the body as a dress-cum-apron as only he would think to do. Along the way, athletic mesh became decorative flou; a thick, vibrant striped sweater was secured around the neck like a life vest; thick bubbles of rubber trimmed mohair; a wetsuit pulled off the torso formed a vibrant peplum over a neon skirt. Within this explosion of ideas, Galliano went back and forth between ease (two-piece sweater dressing) and polish (chi-chi belted suit). All together, it intrigued with a fanciful take on chic. Broken down, it was packed with great clothes.

The models wore cloche hats of sorts — a parade of fashion-sci-fi Mercurys. An intentional reference to the god known for having a thing for winged headgear? Perhaps. This collection was loaded with fabulous real clothes, and there were great looking bags, to boot. Among his other distinctions, Mercury is the god of commerce.

The review originally appeared as part of the story “Maison Margiela, Lanvin and Dries Van Noten RTW Spring 2017.” Read the full story here.

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