Pont d’Alexandre III – one of the most iconic, glamorous places in Paris, facing Les Invalides on one side, and Palais Royal on the other. Yet, it was under the bridge that John Galliano took us for the last Paris Couture Week show, capturing the unique, uncanny atmosphere of interwar Paris, with all its multi-coloured facets. Sitting by the stony walls in the half-light of the glimmering street lamps mirrored in puddles, and overlooking the Seine, you couldn’t help losing yourself in the magical, Brassaï-like atmosphere. A perfect night to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Galliano joining Maison Margiela. And the show did more than prove him to be one of the greatest.
With its complexity, setting, and choreography, it was much more than a regular show – it was a performance. After Lucky Love’s emotional “Now I Don’t Need Your Love” and a stunning short film setting the tone, we had a chance to marvel at over 40 outfits, with their corsets, eye masks, patchwork, bandage-like tights, and layers of transparent, patterned tulle, organza, and chiffon. Add some oversized trenches, tweed flat caps, and black knee socks to get into the avant-garde Parisian mood. The run-down bar setting arranged for the show, with its worn wooden floor, old-school chairs, winking yellow lightbulbs, vintage mirrors, and empty wine bottles had a magnetising vibe of an antebellum bistro somewhere in the artistic district of Montmartre.
The highlights of the collection include long, oversized trousers, suits, and woollen trenches with lines of thread visible – as if the amendments process was still in progress. Other recurring motifs were body curves underlining long skirts and elegant female coats with puffed sleeves, covered with thin, loops-containing Lycra. The iconic tobi-toe shoes were also there! The most impressive outfits were undoubtedly the transparent, ankle-length tulle dresses, which brought female corporeality with all their curvy lines, artificial wasp waists, and pubic hair to the front. No taboos are to be found there! The collection ended in four white-blue striped dresses, the last of which was presented by the classy Gwendoline Christie. The outfits, together with long gloves, curly wigs, and blue eyelids created the effect of an American doll from the 1950s.
One of our absolute favourites was a long, purple-pink-yellow tulle dress, accompanied by a tulle-wrapped white hat. The outfit left an uncanny feeling, as the model’s face looked like the one of a button-eyed doll from Tim Burton’s Coraline, and the tulle seemed to cover the whole body, looking like the skin of an alien. Indeed, the great idea behind this and many other looks was for the models to resemble dolls. From the corsets worn by both men and women to the porcelain-like necks, inhuman, unearthly-looking faces, bandaged legs and throats, the shaky-walking models seemed like actual porcelain dolls brought to life. As they passed unstably, looking deep into the spectators’ eyes, often nervously covering themselves
to produce a shy, emotional effect, they were much more than mere models. They were actors, who played in the great show embracing human sensuality, emotionality, and corporeality.
The doll effect was mostly reached thanks to the breathtaking makeup done by the fabulous Dame Pat McGrath. The porcelain-like, perfectly smooth faces, the glittering lips, and the intense colourful eyes were just marvellous, with the fluffy, aerodynamic, hat-like hairdos by Duffy completing the looks.
With the audience cheering and shouting “Bravo!” repeatedly right after the show, it seems that John Galliano once again proved that he and the Maison Margiela fashion house truly deserve their position at the top!
Words By by Julia Sułkowska