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Why We Can’t Stop Thinking About Margiela Image: AI generated by ReflexParis

Why We Can’t Stop Thinking About Margiela

By Effy Blanchard, Copywriter, ReflexLondon

Article Summary

Maison Margiela's latest couture presentation, set in the atmospheric depths beneath Pont Alexandre III, has set social media ablaze with its raw, haunting allure. From beginning to end, the show demonstrates the power of intelligent design, provocation, and authentic adherence to brand identity, transporting viewers into a world where ethereal characters inhabit a Parisian underworld.

Galliano's voice echoes a championing of extreme creativity reminiscent of late-90s McQueen, every detail reflecting a departure from the conventional luxury we’ve become accustomed to. Timely and on-brand, Pat McGrath’s makeup and Margiela's collaboration with Christian Louboutin add depth to the narrative. Meticulously crafted and cohesive, this spectacle transcends fashion, sparking imagination and uniting audiences in a shared aesthetic experience.


Maison Margiela’s recent couture collection has been captivating our social media feeds since the moment the sound of wooden heels echoed through the damp underground corridors beneath the Pont Alexandre III. Illuminated by a full moon, the bridge’s misty underpass led to creaky floors of a dark Parisian speakeasy, where John Galliano gave us one of the most staggering fashion experiences in recent memory.

In a love letter to Paris, Galliano sent characters of all walks of life creeping down the runway, with a transcendental quality akin to the imagery of a song or painting… But what's really sparked online fervor in recent weeks isn't some divine, inexplicable genius fueled by the energy of the full moon. It's the meticulous curation that leveraged three key factors to successfully create a lasting impression: intelligence, provocation, and staying true to the brand.


What makes this show memorable to fashion enthusiasts isn't just the incredible clothes and exquisite craftsmanship; it's also the fact that it's entirely, unmistakably Galliano, fitting seamlessly into Margiela's ethos. There's a coherence and context that make it deeply satisfying. The ethereal characters, though otherworldly, feel like genuine inhabitants of a world Galliano has meticulously crafted. Models transformed into recognizable figures from books and songs and sketches we’ve experienced before, allowing us to envision and romanticize their lives within the framework of this world.


This element of the show played a major role in feeding the media frenzy, but it's not the sole focus; it merely adds realism to the representation of the characters, story, and world. Galliano's delicate dresses, sheer enough to reveal body hair through tulle and lace, provoked a reaction reminiscent of Alexander McQueen's 1996 “Dante” collection, which famously introduced the ultra low-rise “bumsters." It’s a reverence and humour surrounding our relationships to the human body and sartorialism that reminds us that the two are inextricably linked. Bringing attention to the most human parts of ourselves in the context of couture is a kind of romanticisation of the grotesque, of the primitive and naive parts of ourselves, rather than a rejection of it. This feels like the ultimate departure from the “quiet luxury” we have been seeing in recent years; Galliano’s bold stand for extreme creativity during a time when the industry is so devoid of taking risks makes this choice all the more impactful.


Timely, relevant, and in line with the brand: People have many different theories about the meaning and technique of Pat McGrath’s makeup design for the show. As a Gen-Z millennial cusp, what I saw instantly was the "dewy skin trend" brought to its logical conclusion. Maximalist, theatrical, and absurd, McGrath seems to have taken a recognizable cultural trend to its extreme and turned it into art. Which is what happens when something sticks around long enough to enter the cultural zeitgeist. This aspect of the show is perfectly timed and relevant, without overshadowing the rest. 

Galliano's distinctive voice resonates authentically throughout, from the recognizable gray chevron of an upturned collar to trompe-l'oeil prints under silk and organza, all complemented by the unmistakable 4-corner stitch. Shades of pale pink, lilac, lavender, deep reds, navy, and gray, alongside textures evoking wood and porcelain, transport us directly into a boudoir from a lost era, belonging to rebels, artists, and outcasts navigating moonlit streets after indulging unspeakable acts to make ends meet. The collaboration with Christian Louboutin unveils six shoe designs, fitting perfectly with the collection's theme of sexy, seedy underdogs.


Every aspect of this show is meticulously crafted to complement the others, resulting in a cohesive, stimulating, and satisfying spectacle. It sparks the imagination, encourages dreams, and invites understanding, creating a shared language that brings people together through fashion.