Maison Margiela's Forties Remix

Glitched nostalgia from the 40s with a perverse twist showed today at Maison Margiela. As memories are filtered by time, they are then distorted and often belie the original meaning. John Galliano, Creative Director, went into this process of elaborating the codes of those years by reshuffling them with digital-era language, generally fast and cursory. The past, present, and future were reconnected into nurses and army officials from the “Lili Marlén” years. Assembling and disassembling the wardrobe staples from Tarantino-style “Inglourious Basterds" tavern regulars à la the Second World War years: the military leather trenchcoat turned into a corset, a widened Perfecto jacket for tough modern nuns, and ruffled feminine dresses for the entertainers. The designer touch and the atelier’s masterful ability to construct dresses is always flawless, but, this time, he seemed a bit restrained and the fascination which he used to bestow upon us seemed lacking due to the literal interpretation of that atmosphere. But the thing we enjoy the most remained: entering into the world of Margiela, on a trip conducted by Galliano. 

Summer is light and colourful, happy and exuberant, and Dries Van Noten felt the need to explore this. He wanted to have fun; he needed to experiment with couture, beauty, and audacity. Eighties and Nineties. All these pieces together brought him to Christian Lacroix's work. So, instead of putting his iconic design in the mood board, Van Noten picked up the phone and called him. And the dream became the real fashion moment of fashion week, a very unique event where two talented and creative minds worked together to design one collection – not just a collaboration or the trend of the moment, but a true team effort of all involved. It was very clear on the catwalk that the Dries Van Noten design was just as fully present as that of Monsieur Lacroix, not just a simple mixing of styles. 

The same energy could be found at Rochas. Alessandro Dell’Acqua injected pop into the couture, turning the usually discreet and calm palette into an energetic and joyful vibrant candied yellow, red, cobalt blue, and acid green. “I loved to use a very light orange velvet too,” explained the Italian designer backstage before the show. “The idea of a shiny bright velvet for summer amused me. I kept everything light and funny, only the shoes were made with a couture approach and all draped.” His excitement was very welcomed in these complicated days in which we are living, along with his light sense of glamour. 

Fewer sparkles and more childhood memories appeared at Lanvin where the comic strips of “Little Nemo In Slumberland” by Winsor McCay (published on 1905 by the New York Herald) were printed on many looks. Nemo was a 5-year-old child that lived imaginary and wondrous adventures where everything was possible in his dreams. These same feelings were portrayed through Bruno Sialelli’s memories of his youth, full of happiness and fantasies in the South of France. It was a new elegance inspired and revisited by the 50s and 60s. The collection was nice and funny, and it gave that sense of jollity we really need (even under the pouring rain of the morning in the show’s outdoor location at the Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac). But an identity issue remained: the past of the designer that is still too present, which keeps situating his work under the shadow of JW Anderson at Loewe. 

The Mugler collection by Casey Cadwallader was, above all, an analysis of the full spectrum and beauty of the body’s shapes, then of the clothing. It was a happy and sexy celebration of all the sizes, genders, styles, ages, and set everyone free from their daily uniforms. Audacious looks were conceived around the hourglass silhouette, here rebuilt but retaining the Maison’s pivotal signature corset. Overall, Cadwallader’s inclusive idea of the show was very interesting, but when you focus on the design, the references to Glenn Martens' Y/Project were too evident and seemed to deprive the clothes of any meaning. 

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