Fashion week certainly looks different this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced brands to give up the usual splashy in-person fashion shows for digital alternatives and in many cases, this has meant anti-climactic brand films that leave rabid fashion followers unsatisfied. On Friday, however, John Galliano's Margiela Artisanal Fall 2020 BTS film showed us that innovative virtual experiences can actually prove better than the runway.
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Galliano has an unbelievable team of collaborators from Pat McGrath on makeup to Eugene Souleiman on hair and Nick Knight on imagery. Knight's film captures the many moments leading up to the final showing: from shared screen emails and Zoom calls with the Margiela team to Galliano's in-depth explanation of the collection's elaborate, esoteric inspirations to McGrath and Souleiman (and thanks to this film, us). It all begins with this announcement in the press notes:
Creative director John Galliano detects a desire for transparency: a new consciousness clarified by the illumination of the creative process and the human values it represents.
What follows is an amazing reminder of the months of work and creativity that go into a collection we're accustomed to digesting in 15 minutes. The hour-long project, which was filmed at Margiela's Rue St Maur headquarters and in the Cotswolds, resembles more of a full documentary than compilation bonus footage. With no shortage of inspirations, Galliano delves deeper into his idea of Margiela's brand DNA (ancestral hand-me-downs, dressing in haste, etc.) and enthuses over Gladys Deacon, the Duchess of Marlboro who wound up in an asylum with a ruined face after botched wax injections. The work concludes as more of a traditional (if anything Galliano can be called traditional) fashion film.
The collection itself is inspired by ancient statues — in particular, the dramatic, sensual draping of their sculpted wet clothing. (Because this is couture, Galliano refuses to take the easy way out, showing soaked garments to achieve the look in full.) Elsewhere, influences of the London Blitz nightlife kids and Apache dancers also become apparent, and through it all, the clothes have Galliano's signature "is it falling apart or half-way done" look.
This is fashion with a capital F: it's not wearable, it's not commercial. It's full of fantasy and magic, transporting you to a world you don't even completely understand. And during a pandemic, Galliano's Margiela Artisanal is exactly the kind of escape we need.
Photos courtesy of Maison Margiela