It’s difficult to be an impartial writer when John Galliano shows a Maison Margiela show like he did this season. This was the first Artisanal menswear show at the house and it was mind-blowingly fantastic. Pardon my enthusiasm, but shows like this one don't come around very often. When they do, they tend to blow your socks off.
This was Galliano’s rebuttal to the saturated sportswear scene that fashion has become. In his mind, slouchy athletic-wear has had its day and this was the dawning of a new masculinity, presented through a couture lens. Satin-back crêpe suiting cut on the bias in shades of soft pink and beige was given tulle or organza bindings over arms and around the neck. Sturdy tweed suits were feminised with detailed beading and feather trim. More beautiful effeminate qualities popped throughout the collection - organza translucent tailoring, bloodied pearl necklaces, a Thelma and Louise style headscarf - but the best was a leopard print body that poked atop pink PVC skin-tight trouser. A transcendence of gender-specific uniform.
These trousers were just one of the fetishistic aspects that ran through the collection, there was constant cinching, tucking and tightness that oozed eroticism. Corsets, skin-tight trousers, dipped plastic fingers, exposed nipples, plastics, galoshes - all sexual, all brilliant. Japanese influences reminded everyone of Galliano's Dior days and were exquisite. A leather corset and trouser set on a model with tattooed exposed chest could be a fashionable member of the Yakuza, while delicate pastel Cuban shirts felt an embodiment of what Galliano was achieving here - masculine shape, feminine palette, couture material. Belted original kimonos, some from the eighteenth century, were reconditioned with a modern obi belt and cowboy shoe, cementing this fluid, succinct collection as one of the best from Margiela to date.
The step into artisanal has been popular this season with many designers utilising couture fabrics in their menswear - but can anyone else offer a collection of this calibre? This was one of those shows that one never forgets - people leaving the space were gasping, mumbling phrases of praise, or with mouths agape. Amongst the loud hubbub of Louis Vuitton, this collection was making noise too. Rather than introducing sportswear into the traditional, it utilised the most long-standing techniques and brought them into modernity and innovation. A new precedent has been set by Galliano.