Has it really come to this: a designer of John Galliano’s artistic depth and vibrant imagination used to promote handbags?
In his role as creative director at Maison Margiela, for spring-summer 2016 the designer of magical reality opened his show with a nice, roomy cream coat with a large and prominent handbag.
The same oversized purse kept reappearing, even though Galliano valiantly fought off the onslaught of accessories with some more poetic effects, like the up-do hair and make-up given a silvered sheen, like many of his filmy metallic dresses.
The decorations on the clothes were often dramatic, from tufts to mirrored disks. There was a touch of the designer’s former bravado when the silver seemed tarnished, like aged metal.
It is important to think of Galliano’s present, not just his past. But having lost one of fashion’s greatest production designers in Michael Howells and having paired down the extravagant hair and make-up of Galliano’s years at Dior, the focus has to go on the clothes.
I feel that there should be a strong resonance of the original Martin Margiela, to which romanticism was alien. But it might have included Galliano’s jackets or coats, made over as a patchwork. Mesh hose and semi-nudity revealing pubescent bared breasts seemed totally out of place.
Galliano, once the ultimate runway show-off, now disappears as the show ends, but he sent some digital show notes that read, “Lo-fi, sci-fi - with a hi-fi finish”.
That applied to the patina on the silver and what Galliano described as glistening “whitewashed mirror”.
All that fabric treatment (which did not apply to the smooth leather bags) was lost on me. So was a grass-green trouser suit, however nicely tailored.
A big cable-stitch sweater looked dynamic, and there was one dashing burnt-orange gown sweeping down the runway.
There was also real charm in Japanese-looking outfits, with a ribbon tied high on the — a modernised geisha elegance for models taking small steps on low, curving heels.
Until they turned around. For the ribbons had a commercial purpose. They held up, like a not-quite backpack... Guess what? Handbags.