Splicing the Rebel and the Dreamer: Maison Margiela Co-Ed 2023

Splicing the Rebel and the Dreamer: Maison Margiela Co-Ed 2023

Splicing the Rebel and the Dreamer: Maison Margiela Co-Ed 2023

Contorting their way along a laboratory-esque runway, models become living prototypes of the experimentation brewing at Maison Margiela.

Contorting their way along a laboratory-esque runway, models become living prototypes of the experimentation brewing at Maison Margiela.

Text: John Kopp

You’re heading down a white, endless path. A pounding beat echoes through its corridors. The feeling you’re experiencing seems familiar. However, that’s impossible because it’s the first time you’re seeing it—anyone is seeing it. The concept seems so obviously brilliant, yet it’s so intricate you don’t quite know what you’re looking at.

Human Error. Evolution. This is the future.

Welcome to the future of Margiela. Galliano’s Margiela.

Margiela’s departing words to Galliano were, “take what you will from the DNA of the house, protect yourself, and make it your own.” And that he did.

Splicing threads and genetics, the house provides a sequel to its 2022 Cinema Inferno with the offspring of its protagonists, Count and Hen. Contorting their way along a laboratory-esque runway, models become living prototypes of the experimentation brewing at Maison Margiela.

Courtesy of Maison Margiela

Through garments emulating unfinished clothing and raw hems, Galliano and his team embody fashion as a process. A concept central to the vision of the house, we are confronted with dresses rich in tulle, discontinued curvilinear motifs, and frayed edges.

Hacked-up, bias-cut dresses are reinterpreted as rompers to instill notions of wear that create a life within the garments themselves. Not spoken in words but through fashion, the Maison conveys their theory that satisfaction lies in the incomplete by leaving gaps for viewers to fill through their own subjective lens.

Contradicting the free-flowing forms of its Avant-Première Spring/Summer 2023 collection that instilled a sense of spontaneity through movement, Maison Margiela generously features figure-hugging garments this season. Once again proving to be one step ahead of its peers, the visionary brand forgoes the fluidity that abounds this season to return to restriction and compression with its silhouettes.

Courtesy of Maison Margiela

Jackets are reimagined with decortiqué as the house pierces past the membrane of convention with the invention of Rorschach cutting. One distressed, paint-splattered coat, in particular, merges Galliano and his enigmatic predecessor’s vision keenly with massive slits and tactful defects on its back.

Courtesy of Maison Margiela

Maison Margiela’s repertoire under John Galliano has translated to one chasing elusive dreams as a focal point of inspiration. Subdued and hazy, its Avant-Première Spring/Summer 2023 collection tapped into the subconscious stream of style.

Gracious silhouettes and quivering dresses spun historical references into garments of awe, a signature of Galliano’s work. Wielding dichotomy as a scepter for innovation, this collection opposed the illusion of softness with utilitarian materials.

Extending his pyramid of artistic exploration, Galliano entered its third stage with wearable garments. Accessible, nonetheless elegant, the pre-collection played with notions of ‘inverted snobbery’ in a very Margielan lens of disruption. It was anti-fashion, subversive of the elite, and very on the nose.

Following that notion, this season, graphics and patterns introduced a very unsuspecting guest to the affair. Enter Mickey Mouse. Amidst a mélange of distressed fabrics, burst stitches, and other disruptions of the needle and thread, the Disney icon appeared in a graphic t-shirt. Mixing high and low culture, intent with intuition, the brand creates an engrossing opposition of polarities in its garments. Perhaps, continuing last season’s exploration of the dreams of today’s youth, nostalgia bites back in a pairing even the most seasoned of fashion pundits would probably not expect.

Courtesy of Maison Margiela

Twisting their necks like swans, models sported whimsical hats, inextricable from the elite once upon a time in a bygone era. It seems Galliano continues to explore themes of the arriviste through a sardonic filter that is equally anti-fashion as it is perfectly at home at the rebellious French fashion house.

Expanding on the house’s archives, the recurring icon of removable sleeves returns to the runway with models sporting opera-length gloves, ridging and folding with quirk and statement.

In collaboration with Gentle Monster, Maison Margiela welcomes a new line of eyewear, including ovular, oversized, cat-eye, wayfarer, and clubmaster frames—all coated with a punchy edge.

A highlight of Cinema Inferno, Maison Margiela unveils its much-anticipated adaptation of Recicla Monster pumps to ready-to-wear. The notorious Tabi shoe continues to evolve as Tabi bluchers now feature an almond-shaped toe. Variations of the sensational shoe now include box leather or rhinestone-encrusted satin in Las Vegas pastels. Western boots, pumps, and rubber-clad Wellington boots, too, elevate the Tabi to new heights as they embrace its distinct split toe.

Courtesy of Maison Margiela

Maison Margiela’s design ethos has always possessed a fervent desire to return the focus in fashion to the garments and not the personas that were designing them. When John Galliano, a fashion persona that proved to be larger than life succeeded the brand in 2014, it was perhaps one of the most unexpected shifts the industry has experienced to date. A history of lavish fashion shows oozing in glamour and grandeur at Dior would initially lead many to question what his place at the mysterious Maison Margiela would do to the brand.

Excavating past the gloss of extravaganzas coating his name, Galliano is perhaps the perfect heir to the Margiela Legacy. Their shared defiant spirit, obsession with deconstruction, reconstruction, and chronology as a compass in their designs are just a few of the likenesses linking Margiela and Dior.

An astounding storyteller, master melder of references, and a rebel at heart, Galliano continues to remind us of that first spark we’ve felt with fashion. With the expansive almanac that is Maison Margiela’s latest collection, his design legacy continues to unfold, each layer more intricate and richer in meaning than the last.

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