There are ‘fashion films’, and then there are the films John Galliano crafts to unveil new collections for Maison Margiela. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill ‘moving lookbooks’, they’re hour-long sagas that offer a unique insight into the mind of one of fashion’s great creative geniuses. For ‘Artisanal’—the name Galliano is now giving Margiela’s couture collections—that meant an immersive, surreal 70-minute film directed by Olivier Dahan. For ‘Co-Ed’—the name Galliano is now giving Margiela’s genderless ready-to-wear collections—it was a shorter but no less extravagant affair, 13 minutes, and also directed by Dahan.
As one would expect, the sensibilities of ‘Co-Ed’ and ‘Artisanal’ are aligned, but differ. In ‘Co-Ed’, the camera zooms out and gives you a peak behind the fourth fall: the sets themselves are revealed, and the models walk around with a kind of rebellious, joyful senselessness that leaves every moment open for interpretation. They’ll row a highly stylised fake canoe, then get bored and begin playing with the prop metallic ‘water’. They’ll stare intensely into the camera—Blue Steel style—then break into a laugh like they find the whole thing ridiculous. “The ‘Artisanal’ film was shot in a studio with a 360 LED screen. In the ‘Co-Ed’ film, we thought it fun to actually reveal the backstage element of it, so there’s an authenticity. We suspend belief,” Galliano told British Vogue.
As for the fashion, there was a clear maritime theme—sailor’s hats, chunky yellow rubber boots, trench coats with lace underlay that looked like shredded nets. Pieces were, in typical Margiela fashion, taken apart and reconstructed: felt jackets with primitive top-stitching and cutouts revealing a plaid underlay, blazers spliced up with panels from denim jeans, scout’s-style patchwork shirts. The collection’s ‘lost boys’ sensibility was entirely intentional: Galliano wants to create clothes for the new generation emerging out of lockdown with a newfound nihilism that makes them simultaneously bored by practically all existing cultural structures and yet vaguely optimistic for a future they may actually get to shape. Which is a long way of saying that when the apocalypse comes, the cool kids will still be wanting to wear Margiela.