John Galliano Returns

The designer made the most of #MargielaMonday in his debut show for the house in London.
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The designer made the most of #MargielaMonday in his debut show for the house in London.
Photo: Maison Martin Margiela

Photo: Maison Martin Margiela

I’m not going to spend half-a-dozen sentences here endlessly comparing John Galliano’s Maison Martin Margiela debut, which took place today in London, to the original designer’s work. I’m also going to try my hardest to stay away from referencing Galliano’s past efforts. There are already plenty of detailed accounts floating around the Internet that deftly illustrate those points. (And an entire Style.com archive to peruse.) 

Here’s what I will say. #MargielaMonday was maybe more thrilling than even Galliano’s greatest supporters could have hoped. The house calls this collection “artisanal,” meaning -- in this context -- handcrafted clothes made from found objects. But couture by another name can smell just as sweet. Galliano’s demons were out there for all to see, a jumbo-sized devil’s mask boldly encrusted on the front of a red exaggerated-cuff swing coat, worn with rubberized red leggings and hoof heels. A ghost bride felt similarly cathartic, decorated with mounds of flowers and crystals and ribbons, her faced covered in the old Margiela way with a sheer wisp of red tulle serving as a base for the elbow-length gloves. Many of the looks were like beautiful innards twisted outward, as if Galliano was using this collection to purge himself of his demons. 

Now that "commercial" is no longer the biggest putdown in fashion, it’s okay to say that there were some exceptionally wearable pieces in there, too. The first look, a suede high-neck vest jacket piped in what looked like pieces of black plastic, was surprisingly easy. As was the finale’s inside-out cargo jacket. 

Couture is always the right place to start over, because there is far less pressure. (Galliano’s greatest enemy.) No one at Only the Brave, Margiela's parent company, is thinking about whether or not this particular collection will sell. (Although there will surely be buyers of the multiple exhibition-worthy pieces.) Instead, it’s about identity. Galliano is fortunate that his predecessor departed six years ago, the legacy softly slipping away. It allowed him to come into this as boldly and as unapologetically as a man in his dark, miserable circumstances could. The best fashion shows leave you excited for what’s next. And that’s exactly what Galliano did today.

Click on through to see the looks.