The night of the wolf moon — the first full moon of the new year — also happened to be the last night of the couture, when John Galliano recreated a decaying Paris nightclub in the vaulted caverns beneath Paris’s Pont Alexandre III bridge across the Seine.
Crepe paper streamers the color of Madeira wine were draped across walls and dangled from the ceiling amid banged-up wooden bistro chairs and scratched-up tables. Then a shirtless chanteur with a Freddie Mercury mustache rose to croon a love song, a grainy black and white film was reflected in the mirrors and the Maison Margiela show began: a fashion fantasy built on extreme corsetry in which bodies became hourglasses; flesh became a fabric unto itself (and no actual fabric was quite as it seemed); and historical allusions ran in and out like time.
At the end, the audience members were so overwrought they didn’t just clap, they stamped their feet hard enough to make the floorboards shake. It has been awhile since anyone had experienced a world-building show quite like it. It looked tortured, in a way that is rarely considered acceptable anymore, and extraordinary at the same time.
Once upon a time such fashion theater was Mr. Galliano’s signature. But between the transformation of houses into global brands and his own drug- and alcohol-fueled antisemitic self-immolation, exile and penitent return at Margiela, it had begun to seem like a thing of the past. A relic of an earlier age of histrionic self-indulgence of which he was the cautionary tale.
Is it time for reconsideration? Vintage Galliano is having a moment — and this was exactly that. Certainly it was a riposte to the whole idea of comfort clothing, stealth wealth and playing it safe; a masterful demonstration of the couturier’s ability to reshape nature in service of a dream and recreate the body modification and control that have become the province of the very rich. (It was striking that Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, multimillionaires and famous physiques both, were in the front row.)