Martin Margiela S/S16
Martin Margiela S/S16

One of the most anticipated shows of the season came down the runway this morning as John Galliano presented his collection for Maison Margiela. What was the biggest takeaway? Handbag backpacks tied on Obi-style. Will they catch on? Hard to say, but this is Galliano. Anything is likely to happen.

It’s warm and sunny in Paris this morning and that seems to have most everyone in a good mood. Anticipation for this Margiela show has been running extremely high and the chatter was loud as guests took their seats. Yes, it’s still very early in the week for Paris, but already the schedule is loaded with some of fashion’s most creative talent, Galliano this morning, Dries Van Noten this afternoon. All this bodes well for the week, though one has to question whether the more commercial houses can keep up.

Two things dominate this Margiela collection. One is a very strong Japanese influence. We not only see this is the detail on several of the dresses and gowns, but in the makeup looks created by Pat McGrath. The floral embroidery and beadwork is dramatic and beautiful, a level and style of detail one might not expect for Margiela but isn’t new to Galliano. Second is total gender ambiguity. There are several male models on this runway, their hair and makeup done exactly like the women, wearing fishnet stockings and pointed toe heels. Androgyny is not new to Paris fashion, but it may well be a stronger trend this season.

In addition to the very strong Asian influences with rounded shoulders and abbreviated bustles, we see a tremendous amount of fishnet and what appears for all practical purposes to be cellophane wrapped around waists and legs. Here is where things might begin to get interesting because we’re seeing more true Galliano touches in this collection than traditional Margiela elements. All the theatrics and bright colors and deep plunging necklines (on guys) is pure Galliano. Where he might have stepped gingerly into his role with the house, the designer seems to be making himself at home and bringing his own aesthetic into the marriage.

Not that traditional Margiela is gone, mind you. The white handbag seen toward the beginning of the collection is a perfect example. The deconstruction elements and thick rope-style ties play true to the house core.

We are still in the early days of this marriage between one of fashion’s most celebrated and sometimes loathed designers and a house built on the founder’s anonymity. Whether the Margiela brand or Galliano’s identity dominates has yet to be seen, but I think it’s safe to say even more creative changes are coming.

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