Thursday 23rd January

| BY Claudia Croft

Maison Margiela: Couture SS20

“Necessity creates the new luxury: invention with a conscience,” declared John Galliano in his customary Maison Margiela pre-show podcast – all fruity vowels and rrrrrrrolling Rs. It provides a fascinating insight into his design process, which is powered by couture. Everything stems from his artisanal experimentations and trickles down to the ready-to-wear. He’s been thinking about conscious consumption. “There are too many clothes in the world,” he said and rather than add to the mountain, he sent his design team out to source interesting clothes from charity shops which were then re-worked and upcycled into couture. There were experimental techniques aplenty, from the polkadot cut outs that quivered and quaked with every step or trompe l’oeil silks that looked like tweeds. “Don’t believe everything you see,” he purred. He’s re-embraced the bias cutting saying: “you never stop learning with the bias.” A signature from his early days; he’s sworn of it during his Margiela tenure.

The designer challenged himself to drape unusual fabrics (Donegal tweeds) and made sinuous dresses with just one seam. They were technical wonders from the hands of a master. But he’s still a rebel. One bias gown was sellotaped directly onto the body. He wowed with colour, layering chiffons to glorious effect and made a political point with wartime inflected tailoring. He said this was a tribute to a generation who fought for the democracy and freedoms now under threat. “People should remember that.” It was all presented with plenty of Galliano attitude, and another fierce walk from Leon Dame. The designer spoke of bourgeois gestures shrugged on coats, elegant posing and angular silhouettes created with hands on hips. “The insolence in the way you tie a bow. The nonchalance involved in achieving that shrug.” Cut Galliano and he bleeds couture.