Innocence, risk, comfort, and protection. For the Autumn Winter 2016-17 Artisanal collection, creative director John Galliano explores a modern reinvention of haute couture through his most personal interpretation of Maison Margiela’s esprit to date. Evoking an illustrative line, aristocracy is decontextualized through an urban lens. Explosive and colourful gestures of authentic fabrics snake and kerb around the body with an Empire line, tweaked and transitioned in modern gestures of protection and ecstatic abandon. Archetypes are reconfigured with rigor and romance, where a blurring of sartorial trappings meets the banal.
“A sense of the incredible and the impossible spins throughout the Artisanal collection, where fantasy is tempered by the jarring authenticity of today’s reality. Our translation of a collective consciousness stretches further than ever before, invoking a timeless array of commonplace ephemera and things strangely familiar.” – Maison Margiela
From fine muslin to resin-wax cottons or ripstop nylon, the rub of unprecious and delicate textiles is inherent to the collection’s tapestry of innovation and artisanal heritage. Opposing notions of feminine and masculine textiles are questioned and reconfigured with irreverence. Technical nylons meet Scottish wool from the Outer Hebrides, and motorcycle leathers bridge textiles woven from delicate cotton ribbons. Ornament appears as a ‘Toile de Jouy’ fabric, curvilinear ‘tribal’ studded motifs crossing swathes of knotted and padded wools, and celluloid bird appliqués decorating heavy plaid. A ‘cherubim’ lace is constructed from hundreds of minute individual fragments: it represents the technical apex of the Maison’s artisanal savoir-faire.
The seminal proposal of outerwear styles flip upside-down from an inverted stance of arching volumes to become a traditional coat shape. Garments betray multiple identities; assembled together from familiar archetypes to become layered hybrids with double lapels and undefined endings and beginnings. A windcheater is carved with the convex curve of a Watteau back; a banker’s stripe shirt is spun into a sweeping train. An intricate cartography of eaves and cornices forms a gown in vacuum-formed smoky plastic, another springs to life patched with Nick Knight’s British Birds (2008).
A burst of primary colours elevates the drab of tweed shades, as scarlet, emerald, sky blue, and sunshine yellow shine against charcoal, forest green, mustard, and chocolate brown. Mid-century pastels like ice blue and lemon sorbet fizz amongst the monochromes.
Intricate hoop earrings and ornate bracelets are hand-carved in Portugal from walnut, pear and boxwoods, and chandelier crystals appear as blood red chokers, embellished goggles, and a primary-coloured contour bra top. The original Maison Margiela deep-cleft ‘Tabi’ boot returns as a thigh-high cuissard with a new moulded rubber sole, alongside trekking-inspired sandals, fantasy hand-painted clogs, and a masculine riding boot.