Margiela does décortiqué design as power changes hands at the house
John Galliano celebrated his tenth collection for the house of Martin Margiela with his most telling Maison Margiela ready-to-wear show in a brilliant display of the décortiqué technique, as the current and future CEOs of the brand sat front row.
It was an assemblage of British eccentricity and Gallic flair – where flashes of Scottish plaid peeked through a devilishly cut up trench coat; using décortiqué to develop fan-like patterns. At times two garments melded into one – like a black varsity jacket combined with a Margiela classic silk nude bodice, or a prim houndstooth jacket that morphed into a red lizard safari jacket.
The Gibraltar-born designer also worked his magic on accessories – from the latest washed-out, cloven-toed Margiela classic boots with their entire backs cut out; lizard boots with cunning new dislocated heels; stunning laced-up hold-all bags and some truly absurd hats. One witnessed an ostrich feather tote worn upside down like a Beefeaters bearskin helmet or a royal crown made of soft shearling. Underlining how radical the cutting was, the French used the verb décortiquer, the same for when they mean to shell a lobster.
“What I am most proud about is how John is developing truly new fashion in a Margiela way. And not just reproducing old Margiela ideas from the past like certain other people,” insisted Renzo Rosso, in what insiders will interpret as a clear snipe at Balenciaga, where ex-Margiela alumnus Demna Gvasalia has riffed on the Belgium founder’s conceptual approach and sense of volume.
Rosso, who acquired Margiela in 2003, revealed that the house is enjoying rapid growth, and achieved a turnover of 145 million euros in 2016.
The show was the last for departing chief executive Giovanni Pungetti, who will leave in 10 days for Shanghai to oversee Renzo’s fashion brands in China. The Venetian billionaire also controls Marni, Viktor & Rolf and the global licence of DSquared2.
“It’s been a great 14 years, five working with Martin, six with a collective team and now newly three with John,” said Pungetti, standing beside his successor CEO Riccardo Bellini, a senior Diesel executive who had previously worked for Procter & Gamble.
In short, Margiela is very much a house on the move, even if Galliano still remains partly under a cloud – formed after an anti-Semitic outburst by the designer led to his sacking by Christian Dior in 2011. At Dior, Galliano was famous for creating elaborate backstages to greet his fans – one was even a Pharaoh’s tomb robber tent. Yet, even though this was his tenth anniversary show for Margiela, Galliano’s backstage was firmly closed to all media for the tenth successive time.
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