Life Style

Who Knew Recycling Could Be So Dramatic?

In today’s fashion landscape, narrative theater, which involves storytelling, characters, and elaborate fantasy scenarios complete with costumes, has largely fallen out of favor during fashion weeks. It has become somewhat of a relic from a more self-indulgent and perhaps less corporate era when designers ruled the runways. However, there is an exception to this trend, and that exception is Maison Margiela, where John Galliano continues to engage in an ongoing world-building exercise that resembles a serialized Dickens epic, season after season.

Galliano’s version of Romeo and Juliet goes by the names Count and Hen. In a previous season called “Cinema Inferno,” they embarked on adventures in the Wild West of America, encountering various intriguing situations. In the current season, Galliano delves into the backstory of their parents, who apparently met during a trans-Atlantic voyage to the United States, as indicated by a neon outline of a cruise ship at the show’s entrance.

Maison Margiela, spring 2024 The New York Times
Maison Margiela, spring 2024 The New York Times

The memories of that journey are captured in the clothing, which includes voluminous black and gray greatcoats with generous draping and trapeze backs, bias-cut gowns, full petticoats, and delicate camisoles. These garments have been passed down through generations, becoming increasingly worn and customized over time. The result is a unique and visually striking collection.

In this collection, stiff white collars took on an unconventional role, detached from their shirts and worn like scarves. They draped around the neck with one pointed end protruding to the side, resembling a garment caught in a perpetual ocean breeze.

Dresses in the collection featured tops that had been folded down to create waistbands for the skirts, revealing the corseted underpinnings beneath. These dresses had a preserved quality, as if they had been laminated and meticulously folded and unfolded, leaving behind distinct creases that told their own story.

One particularly inventive skirt sported a bustle constructed with duct tape, showcasing a blend of creativity and resourcefulness. Wool trousers were intentionally cut short at the knee, with hems rolled up to create a flouncy, New Look-inspired silhouette.

Bags were shrouded in tulle, adding a sense of nostalgia and memory to the collection. Overall, the aesthetic leaned towards a desiccated aristocratic look, but with a touch of recycling or upcycling, highlighting a commitment to sustainable fashion practices.

What makes Mr. Galliano’s current work truly captivating is its ability to remain relevant despite its nostalgic undertones. He has taken the dramatic elements from the past and infused them with a contemporary twist that directly resonates with today’s concerns. These concerns include sustainability, the materiality of fashion, and the challenge of excessive consumption.

His approach represents a genuinely creative response to pressing contemporary issues. It manages to be both entertaining to observe and enticing to wear, striking a balance between enjoyment and thought-provoking exploration of fashion’s role in addressing these concerns.

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