John Galliano's couture debut at Maison Margiela in January heightened the expectations for his inaugural ready-to-wear show that took place tonight in an intimate section of the Grand Palais. That no one could predict what we'd be seeing said it all, really. By the time the last model disappeared backstage it was pretty obvious that what we saw was Galliano at full force, his imagination and ideas both brilliantly imaginative and expertly executed. If you were wondering what Margiela with Galliano at the helm would look like well, just like this.
The super long camel coat that opened the show did not give much away, but slowly the theatricality, romanticism and the designer's love for reconstituting eras and mashing up fictional and real life characters unfolded. The apparent innocence and youthfulness of the sixties was reflected in tartan mini skirts served inside out revealing their silk lining. Dark gothic floor-length lace dresses with whisks of chiffon trailing behind were straight out of Marchesa Casati's wardrobe and a seventies punk rock shaggy fur coat would make Kate Moss very happy. A black velvet polka dot dress that wrapped around the waist and hung open or another in raw-edged chiffon, with a muted rose printed layer underneath and black feathers cascading down the hips, were both oddly nostalgic, both for the era they originated in and for the glorious things Galliano has shown us before. That's said, he's showing us brilliant things again now.
So, what to make of the rather tortured-looking creatures that unwillingly hurried down the runway, some clutching paper bags under their arms? The stages of teenage life, I thought. Moody, uncontrollable, awkward, self-conscious, a little scared and at the same time so innocent and naive. Or was that Galliano's Mad Hatter genius bubbling underneath? Abiding by Margiela custom, he did not take his bow despite the many a "John, John" coming from the photographers. No one rushed away, everyone waited patiently and when it was obvious he wouldn't be coming out we all went back out into that warm Parisian evening and let it linger in our minds.