I’m just going to preface the following text by saying that if you haven’t seen the latest Margiela show, I’m pretty sure you are breaking some kind of law. So, go watch it! 

It’s been three days and I’m still short of words to describe what happened on the first full moon under Pont d’Alexandre III. Galliano for Margiela presented his Artisanal Collection 2024 and after seeing it, I feel like I’ll never be the same. I feel like fashion will never be the same. It was one of those moments when you just knew history was made — fashion students will be learning about this show, fashion professionals will be referencing it years later, and I’m pretty sure people will be admiring these designs in a museum one day. 

Seated both inside and outside of the Parisian night joint with a bar full of empty glasses and dim mirrors, we witnessed a performance that was a year in the making. The theatrical performance opened by Lucky Love. Right after, the lights in the mirrors flickered and turned into screens playing the intro movie. Scenes of lustful corset tightening and jewelry thievery were portrayed in the style of Brasaï’s 1920’s and 30’s work of capturing Paris clubs and streets. 

In the seamless storytelling, after the movie came to an end, the first look of the show appeared. Shirtless with the waist snatched by a waspie creating an almost unreal hourglass figure, Leon Dame both observed and let to be observed as he walked through the crowd. Almost as if emerging from the river, the following characters one after another explored the space in the same manner. Twisting torsos, extending hands, exaggerated hip moves, motion director Pat Boguslawski, who has worked with Margiela for quite some time now, has delivered an excellent example of what a fashion show could be. 

The collection itself was a testament to Galliano’s commitment to pushing boundaries of fashion. Extreme corsetry, padded hips and erotically sheer lace dresses dominated the runway. Pieces with greenish-pink watercolor nudes on them looked like walking paintings, highlighting Galliano’s mastery of artistic expressions. 

The use of pubic hair (which were actually merkins on underwear) in delicate hourglass dresses and provocative details added an element of controversy and certainly pushed the conversation around what beauty and sensuality in fashion could look like.

Fabric manipulation and experimentation was absolutely divine, foregrounding Margiela’s commitment to expanding the couture language. Visible throughout the entire collection, Galliano played with different techniques, many of them developed over the last year. Some involved boiling and gluing, others incrustation and complex thread-work. One of the techniques, named “emotional cutting” approached looking at garments through the lens of “the unconscious gestures that shape our expressions: a caban pulled over the head in the rain, a lapel raised to cover the face, a trouser hoisted up to evade a water puddle”. Another way of working “stripe-tease” innovatively manipulates striped fabric into block colors.

The approach to hair and makeup is a whole other topic, hitting the beauty community like a shock wave. Pat McGrath, the world’s most influential makeup artist, and hair stylist Duffy, enhanced the storytelling by adding emotional impact. Frizzy hair, piled high on the models’ heads, faces painted to achieve smooth, porcelain-like faces and intricate body modification — avant-garde and experimental spirit of Margiela, made it possible for each model to become a canvas.

You can tell the success of the show by the applause after it, so you can imagine the success when you can hear people shout “Bravo!” even before the final look was revealed. Gwendoline Christie striding down the runway, daintily carrying a bag, was the crème de la crème underlining the celebration of humanity, individuality, and fashion as pure creative expression, and proving Margiela’s continued relevance in haute couture.

cover image MAISON MARGIELA via whitewall.art