In the light of Oxfam’s recent arrive that 62 individuals own as much of the world’s wealth as the poorer half of the worldwide population, the Paris haute couture collections hawking six-figure cocktail treats embellished with gold leaf or mink trim deputize a twisted kind of economic sense.
John Galliano’s Maison Margiela Artisanal accumulation, however, is less easy to explain. It is an official haute couture catwalk pose, held in an imposing gallery of the Hotel des Invalides to a tinkly, Parisian cafe-society soundtrack. As with the other plays, the prices are kept discreet, presumably lest word of them should inspirit a revolution. And yet these are definitively not clothes designed to appeal to the wonderful rich, being as much about rags as they are on every side riches.
The philosophy of the house founded by Martin Margiela is about unpicking and exposing how make works, rather than using it to brandish wealth and power.
“The inferior gesture of tearing paper” was the starting point for this be noticeable, which started with white skirt suits, each of which had a part torn out and replaced with a different texture: paper, chief, then lame velvet. There was an idea here all round how a garment takes on the personality and the meaning of the textile it is made of.
Next came contrasts in how fabrics are treated and finished, and how that pretend ti how we read them. So there was neat, close-pleated triple georgette one record, followed by exquisite jacquard with raw, violently ripped edges, went by leather hole-punched into delicate mesh. An exquisite put on fancy dress was draped down the front of a model’s body, cinched with a circuit and leaving her legs bare at the back: a ballgown, worn as a breadwinner’s apron. (“Decorative surfaces migrate across utilitarian locales”, according to the show notes.)
Even the faces of the models were fractured. A lustrous stencil of a red lipped mouth appeared on one model’s throat, and throughout another’s eye. The models’ actual mouths, meanwhile, were painted indelicate or black. Long hair was threaded with feathers and gemstones until it glinted kidney a magpie’s nest. It was original, strange, and surprisingly beautiful.
The strangest part of all? The sales figures. Revenues at Maison Margiela deliver increased by 30% in the past year, since the arrival of John Galliano. Renzo Rosso, proprietor of Diesel as well as Margiela and the man who gave Galliano the job, says that the couture anthology is now the engine of growth at the company, defining the image of the house and mise en scene the agenda for other collections. Plans for handbags and a new perfume are in method, CEO Giovanni Pungetti told Womenswear Daily recently.