Maison Margiela: 2021 Artisanal
John Galliano’s approach to couture at Margiela is fascinating. He’s one of fashion’s great storytellers. Each collection has a narrative, every item has a back story and even the crafting process is part of the plot.
The starting point for his 2021 Artisanal collection was Galliano listening to his young team’s experiences and reactions to the pandemic. They laid bare their fears, anxieties, hopes and coping mechanisms. Galliano wanted his collection to reflect that: “The idea of how we all felt through this pandemic, and being brought to our knees by the power of mother nature,” he explained at the beginning of his epic collection film, A Folk Horror Tale, which he scripted and Olivier Dahan directed.
The story centered around a fishing village. “It’s about the fast-wash of anxiety, the power of nature – and when faced with that, how helpless we are.” We see villagers tend their nets but when the last one left on the beach finds a mirrored crown and puts it on his head and all hell breaks loose. The land is invaded by a creeping dark energy force, which kills. The designer based the look on a photograph of 19th Century traditional Dutch fishermen in traditional shrunken jackets, ballooning trousers and clogs. He used enzyme washes on his fabrics to remove their colours, shrink and distort them. Seams were unpicked to show the original fabric and the violence done to them. Coats were made eight or twelve times too big and then shrunk to fit, and as with other collections, he upcycled charity shop clothes into new pieces.
None of it looked like the polished perfected pieces seen on other Paris catwalks, but the insides of the garments had precious linings and layers of embroidery that told another story. For Galliano, couture does not centre on mannered perfection, but on the chaotic beauty of the process.
Directed by Olivier Dahan.