#SuzyCouture: Maison Margiela Artisanal is Pure Imagination

Polyurethane coats glinting and winking in refractive lights, layers of tapestry and jacquard in vivid colours, cloche hats in bold shades, and a parasol to match. It could only be John Galliano.

Or to be more precise, it was the Maison Margiela Artisanal collection created by the legendary designer.

In a season of newbies and strategic placements in couture houses, the definition of high fashion is more complex than ever. But the colourful collection that Galliano sent out was his usual, striking vision of controlled craziness.

The overall effect was super visual, as models apparently glowing in the gloom walked past bed-shaped seating created by American artist Jessi Reaves.

Everything seemed preternaturally “arty”. But the designer had also embraced high tech, with a coat-dress transformed into a holographic gown. In another example, the shadow of a coat became visible over a bright feather encased in clear polyurethane.

Just reading the show notes was extraordinary, even before absorbing the result. “Trench coat zipped to a dress created in half-lining and half-silk jersey and worn with a lime green leather bustier,” read to the description of look number two.

But all was revealed in conversation with Renzo Russo, whose Only the Brave company owns Maison Margiela.

He explained to me that this collection was not intended for couture clients, but as inspiration for the atelier to create the selling ready-to-wear line.

“You can see the energy in the showroom – I was very impressed,” Renzo said. “It was not easy with John in the beginning, but in one year we have headed in the right direction and sales are up 24%. Artisanal is just a prototype; we give it to museums or art galleries or put it in our archive. We never sell it. But the details go into the commercial collection.”

“After two years we finally have John’s vision,” he continued. “It was not possible before. But now it is organised and it’s good when you do it all at the same time. Otherwise, you lose the creativity because people can steal it.”