Some consider it the most impactful spectacle of the last 15 years. Let’s delve into it, revealing some curiosities that contributed to making it so extraordinary.
On the first full moon night of the year, along the majestic Pont Alexandre III that borders the Seine, a historically infamous location for its underworld connections, Maison Margiela Artisanal concluded the Paris Haute Couture Week with a sensational runway show, reminiscent of Toulouse-Lautrec and Victor Hugo.
The Pont Alexandre III and the underlying warehouse transformed into an extraordinary stage for John Galliano‘s blend of fashion and art. Models walked the upper part of the bridge, descending to the lower deck where tables were set for the guests. The show continued in a vaulted warehouse beneath the bridge, designed as a decadent vintage café, with inexpensive chairs, discarded tables, worn walls, wanted posters, dim lights, broken lamps, and a dilapidated billiard table.
The runway showcased a series of “nocturnal” and picturesque French archetypes: Moulin Rouge dancers, gamblers, apartment mice, voluptuous courtesans, and dolls with dramatic faces. They all moved with sentimental transport, akin to a music box, while the bistro’s mirrors reflected the live performance of French singer and Freddy Mercury look-alike, Lucky Love, accompanied by choristers and a band. Following this, the action unfolded, and the performance began.
The masterful makeup by Pat McGrath and fashion hairstyles by Duffy transformed Margiela’s models into moving dolls with shiny and impeccably perfect faces, wrapped in an unnatural porcelain-like veneer. Pat‘s team used the brand’s products, but the secret behind achieving the plastic glass skin effect remains undisclosed, possibly tied to a special makeup wax for stage.
To label this presentation merely a fashion show is reductive; it was an almost hallucinatory performative work of art. Amidst this frenetic and dramatic madness, extraordinary artisanal pieces emerged: cocoon-padded jackets, rendered decadent with fragments of cotton threads and tulle, garments adorned with gold fringes worthy of a Venetian courtesan.
A fallen countess, dressed in a corrugated cardboard gown, evoked Galliano’s famous 1984 graduation defilé, “Les Incroyables,” referencing the Palais Royal during the French Revolution and the inhabitants of the Parisian underpasses, especially the Alexandre III.
The company of worn-out old dolls, with degraded tights and padding sticking out of their necks and sleeves, peaked with Gwendoline Christie‘s entrance on stage, in a latex crinoline dress over a belle epoque style corset with blue stripes.
The most observant did not miss the homage to friend Alexander McQueen and his first ‘Jack the ripper stalks his victims’ collection with the dresses decorated with real human hair, returned, on the vulva-shaped latex jumpsuit for Margiela.
Continuing the tradition initiated by Martin Margiela, Galliano remained behind a golden backstage curtain, despite the almost deafening applause from guests begging for his acknowledgment. The Maison Margiela SS24 “Artisanal” Fashion Show was the definitive resurrection of a designer-artist who had long been in the shadows, thanks to his rebellion and pure audacity that allowed him to survive and triumph over the storm.