The pairing of John Galliano’s vast knowledge of fashion history, and its muses, with Maison Margiela’s fetish for the obscure is producing spectacular results. In his couture, or Artisanal, show for the house today, he sent out the gamines, the clochards, the urchins, the bag ladies we’ve come to expect, enveloped in whatever street detritus — burlap, plastic bits, old-lady nylons, mirror shards — they could gather and fashion into self-ennobling, high-end concoctions. Except these were often globally sourced, traditionally crafted fabrics and materials, a multi-culti nod. In this way, the shocking and the familiar converged and congealed — a Fauvist painting sprung to life.
Elevating the proverbial sack dress, and its wearer, to exalted status is Galliano’s great skill. Though synonymous with glamooouuur for so long, particularly his Dior collections, he appears to be moving away from bias-cut flawlessness toward a bumpy, deconstructed, ragged, very flawed place. As if he is owning those flaws of his. If that means he’s projecting his own road to redemption, following those ghastly public displays of affliction, onto his collections for Margiela, so be it. He’s taken his lumps and he’s giving them back with shapeless yet glorious items of devotion and absolution.