Fashion
  • Text Nazanin Shahnavaz
  • 2nd March 2017

The Galliano effect

Since John Galliano’s appointment at Maison Margiela in 2015, the house has undergone several transformations. Those changes were more than evident in his latest offering. The FW17 collection, entitled Défilé, showcased what the designer is best known for – the weird and the whimsical – his ability to turn orthodoxy on its head through style. And so on Wednesday morning models burst on stage wearing oversized black and burgundy shearling bags as hats. Surprisingly, the bag-hats looked more like regal headdresses than kooky-bag-lady – a reminder of the fantasy of fashion, and the power of dressing up.

Such notions have always been the lifeblood of Galliano’s work, from the romance and the poetry of his couture collections at Dior to the spectacular theatrics of his eponymous label. And yes, for ‘Défilé’ he explored those signature hallmarks: there was his play with proportion and his insane colour palette; but what was most striking were his extraordinary fabric treatments. Throughout the entire collection Galliano applied an intense cut-out technique; peeling back the layers of cloth, he dissected classic silhouettes down to the core elements – his way of bringing MM’s minimalist ethos to centre stage.

In the sea of thread, ribbon and fabric that streamed down the runway, jackets and skirts were reduced to a cage of seams, a trench coat was reconfigured to have a love-heart neckline and one model wore just the roll-neck of a sweater and patch-worked faux python coat. Ever the idiosyncratic designer, the result was a collection that at once felt deeply familiar and yet palatably strange. We all know that Galliano does not work by a prescribed set of rules – instead he designs with instinct, reworking his fantasies into bold new forms.