'Being who you are is an act of defiance,' rang trans activist and Margiela model Teddy Quinlivan’s voice as the Margiela S/S 19 show began. This was a collection built on breaking the rules, doing away with tradition and all that you thought you knew about garments. 'Who wrote that book, who wrote the rules? I wasn’t involved in it,' said Galliano in his pre-recorded podcast.
A typical Margiela degradé and deconstructed collection this was not. There were the elements of cut-and-paste, tape hair clips and Velcro-locking coats, but this season Galliano had thrown away the need for considering gender for women’s and men’s wardrobes - this was truly a co-ed collection. Plastic lattice skirts, second-skin holographic leggings and gilded dresses with peep-hole cut-outs were designed for whoever wishes to wear them. Felt coats were left with cuts where one imagines sewing chalk, outlining both typically masculine and feminine shapes. Sheer underneath layers of hazy brown or soft blue and lace dresses over plastics were absolutely sublime. As too, were the unisex iridescent shoes.
This was the ultimate collection with Gen Z in mind - the generation who questions everything: Why can't I be this way? Why do that? Why now? Screens on bags and ankle straps (continued from the A/W 18 couture collection) were a reminder of the youth this collection called upon and that Galliano is always looking to the future. One step ahead. This collection was undeniably fantastical. Models even walked with a gait and a swagger, a smirk even, as if to say, ‘You know this is good.’ Mackintoshes, cross-pollinated with jumpers which belted around the chest, camisole corset hybrids designed as if the side of one jacket and a black suit adapted from seasons past were all noteworthy.
The collection also tied with the launch of the new Margiela perfume ‘My Mutiny’. Individuals such as Hanne Gaby Odiele and Princess Nokia featured on screen, discussing the value of a new generation - from self-confidence to bullying to transgender youth. Some more cynical critics would snub their nose at this potential marketing moment, but really, the questioning of rules and of gender have been challenged every season by Galliano.
This S/S 19 collection (perfume campaign included) felt climactic. Margiela is a house that challenges the status quo, the norm, the banal, and this was a glorious merging of those codes with Galliano's experimental wit, passion and flair. 'The possibility that you don’t have to think about the gender - it’s just a way of thinking that’s more genderless. It’s transformative,’ added Galliano. This was indeed transformative fashion, fashion that truly celebrates the wearer's individuality and expression.