Glamour. In a yoga-pants-and-sneakers world, how can it thrive? “Unconsciously,” according to one of its greatest champions, John Galliano.
For the Maison Margiela collection he showed Wednesday morning, Galliano took the stuffiness out of glamour and replaced it with a whole lot of relaxed allure, the result of his painstaking consideration, not only of theme, but of every seam, every stitch, every nuance. The result was a bounty of fashion joy.
In the manner of the classical couturier, Galliano drew from his July Artisanal show in which he sought to define a new glamour. In adapting that premise to ready-to-wear, he looked at glamorous pastimes, he said backstage before the show, listing a spa moment at the pool, horse riding and hunting attire – not, he stressed, hunting itself. Such a PC distinction from Galliano would have been unfathomable once upon a time. But these are very different times than when the Galliano dream machine transported his audiences to far-off lands of glorious wonder. Along the way, the fashion of fashion has become increasingly commercialized and marketing-driven. How newfangled for some in his audience, and comforting for others, to now experience at Margiela a level of fashion that very few designers can deliver, and have it look very real — with liberties taken, of course.
Galliano’s ruse du jour was of a glamour resulting from dressing in haste with a casual, imperfect air — a towel wrapped quickly at the spa (presto! languid bustier over a skirt); a bit of froth thrown on over basic daywear (his take on it, anyway). And, oh yes, grabbing all of one’s travel essentials — two-in-one backpack, luggage tags, pillow — for the rush through the airport. For those who don’t see the glamour in that last activity, well, this is fashion, not accuracy.
Giving voice to his inner pragmatist, Galliano has made the trench a cornerstone of his Margiela, his inventive versions de- and reconstructed to perfection, often into dresses. Here, one attached to a tonal, sleeveless tee; another, to a bustier extracted from a red hunting jacket. Both charmed. He spent a great deal of time on the trench, with Marilyn Monroe providing a window into his nonlinear thought process. A famous photo of her, in gold pleated sexpot gown and regalia, was the inspiration for a coat. Not the one you’d expect, a lavish gold cloque beauty with crinoline overlay, but a workaday version, its silhouette enhanced by pleats falling from the shoulder.
Galliano had his way with another beloved classic as well, the cotton T-shirt. He abracadabra-ed it with his now signature decortiqué magic, cutting it to its essential shell and adding feathers or jewels to toss on over whatever – organza shift dress and undies; sturdy checked suit. “The new jewelry,” he said.
That wasn’t Galliano’s only transformative accessory, nor his most practical. The aforementioned plane pillow was actually the designer’s new bag — a big, soft cloud of a shoulder bag puffed with comfort chic. The house christened it the Glam Slam, but they might have called it Cloud Nine — that wonderful place where interesting, inventive fashion can take you. You can even bypass the airport.