After the finale, attendees leaned forward to see if they would catch a glimpse of John Galliano. They didn't. However, even if he didn't come out physically, this show was a kind of coming out. It was a re-emergence of an enigma. Spring/Summer 2016 brings us one step closer to the Galliano we knew in the early days - going full throttle, full of ideas and enjoying the joie de vivre of it all. In short, this show was near incredible.
Pre-show, we were lulled into a mid morning lullaby - courtesy of the Vangelis Bladerunner soundtrack and various other auditory nibbles. Once the show started, a baseline erupted, and the voice of FKA Twigs asked: 'Do you have a lighter? Am I dancing sexy yet?' The near hedonistic energy felt reminiscent of the Jeremy Healy days. It felt like John was back. Every season, I guess it feels a little bit more appropriate to melt the PR glacier - and show John as human again.
The first exits poured out onto the catwalk. Sugared Marie Antoinette hairstyles also evoked the 1950's gritty glamour of Etta James and the late Amy Winehouse. Previous collections at Maison Margiela have seen Galliano engage with a bag lady kind of intellect that suggests sidelined marvel and rummaging ingénue. Today’s version of events evoked down and out heiress. Similar to the spirit of his fleeing Tsarina (S/S 94), with stuffed jewels down her bustier, this was a girl sneaking through the palace gates so she could spend the evening at a Ska club. Ornate crystal jewellery was bricolaged onto the tops of ears and pinned in swathes across pistachio coats. Plaster of Paris shoes leaned back in an arched Versaille style, whilst fishnet tights were pulled over the entire shoe, and added to the unhinged styling. Little leopard print collars saw Galliano continue to collage his past at Dior, whilst brushed metallic prints evoked the spontaneous approach of both designers. Frayed cricket jumpers were sequined – reminding one of Gucci’s recent foray into reworked vintage styles. There were also men on the womenswear runway today, which is a new thing for the re-launched house. This is proof that the label wants to symbiotically promote dual narratives. Furthermore, due to some of the men wearing dresses, it was a signifier of the house not only being in line with the blurring lines of gender, but that their creative director is from the era when counter-androgyny icons loomed large within 1980s subculture.
The girls here were also outré androgynous, courtesy of Teddy boy rolls, and decon/recon wool felt tailoring, which altered the shape of their female torsos. There was a sporty sponginess to fabrics. Cut into Mugler-esque insect silhouette, tops and trousers had a sci-fi element. Cutting to the show notes, this all started to make sense. The show was summed up as being 'Sci-fi / Low Fi / with a Hi Fi Finish'. This explains the pre-show Bladerunner soundtrack then. 'All the moments lost in time, like tears in rain', that infamous line from the closing frames of Ridley Scott's 1982 classic, also called to mind a possible contextual cue for the 'High-Fi' finish. Skirts with voile encased silver paillettes were worn with silver gloves, mirroring the constant rain which plummets continuously throughout Bladerunner. Looking again at the formal black leopard collared coat, we see that this is reflective of Bladerunner's protaganist, Rachel. The subversive glamour continued with ornate orange beading on the backs of dresses which were embroidered with whispers of Schiaparelli’s lobster.
The Geisha looks within the collection also reminded one of the synthetic fusion culture of Bladerunner’s futuristic LA, where hectic street scenes featured Geishas and harikrishnas. Postmodernity is more than suspicious of organised religion and tradition. Galliano’s geishas perversely eschewed the kimono, so that obi knots tied handbags to their back. However, nothing was more perverse than commoditizing girls as Geishas and labeling it as beautiful tradition. This collection was edging towards the energy of Galliano’s 'Les Incroyables' graduate collection, where he had revolutionaries ripping down curtains. 'Hi-Fi Finish' cling film wrapped hair tapped into the 'Low-Fi' styling, which was not only a key component of the show note’s summary, but a cornerstone of both John Galliano’s and Martin Margiela’s ongoing creative process.
I say this collection is 'nearing' incredible, rather than incredible, as this designer has so much more to give – and I have full faith he will bring it forth.