The Maison Margiela 2024 Artisanal Collection paints a picture of the practices and occurrences that shape the character reflected within our dresses. The ritual of dressing is a composition of the self. With the body as our canvas, we build an exterior expressive of the interior: a form of emotion.
Born out of an internal exploration founded in consciousness, the collection is a technical and philosophical study of presence and sentience. Under Pont Alexandre III, bathed in the light of the first full moon of the year, Creative Director John Galliano captures a moment in time: a walk through the underbelly of Paris. Intrigued by the voyeuristic portraiture of Brassaï, a focused awareness of our unnoticed surroundings unfolds: the nighttime revellers one passes on a moonlit wander along the Seine, what lies beneath the imprints of their clothes, and what happens behind the dimly-lit windows of their homes.
In a physical expression of emotional form, silhouettes are sculpted with body-modifying corsets and cinchers underpinned by prothèses. They create the framework for studies of the ritual of dressing explored through haute couture techniques reflected in the painter’s process, from line and shape to texture and value. Posing as heavy-duty wardrobe staples, featherlight jackets, coats and trousers are constructed through the technique of milletrage: a mirage created from a filtrage composed of a mille-feuille of organza and felt under a wool crêpe printed with a trompe l’oeil of the texture of a classic gentleman’s cloth. It is draped – aquarelled – in a voilette of tulle illusorily printed to appear moon-faded, sun-bleached, tobacco stained or oily as if illumed by the reflection of water at night. Exercised through emotional cutting, the garments are imbued with 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 hoicked up to evade a water puddle.
Some interpretations materialise over bodysuits aquarelled in tulle in the fauvist grammar of the Dutch French painter Kees Van Dongen. The practice also evolves in seamlace dresses constructed entirely and seamlessly from encrustations of lace. The collection’s synthesis between the painterly process and the ritual of dressing ignites a study of the muse-like relationship formed between artists and their anatomical lay dolls. Created with Christian Louboutin, red-soled shoes sculpted with augmented heel caps and platforms echo the form language of the collection.
Created over twelve months in the haute couture ateliers of Maison Margiela, the collection introduces several new techniques developed by John Galliano. It further evolves and refines established haute couture practices emblematic to the dressmaking of the Creative Director at the Maison. Seamlace, Milletrage, Retrograding, Emotional cutting, Aquarelling, Rétrécirage, Stripe-tease, and Gouttoir-coating are just a few of these innovative techniques.
Hats in gloss-coated foam, chiffon and muslin enveloped in stocking material echo the reverse swatching of the garments with which they are worn. Caps imbued with the gestures of emotional cutting are crafted in the cloths of the gentleman’s wardrobe or in the printed trompe l’oeil wool crêpes of the collection’s milletrage garments. Appropriating the inappropriate, goggles and goggled turbans appear in silk organza with elements of clear material. Masks are aquarelled from tulle and embroidered with face motifs. Moulded loups are created in collaboration with Stephen Jones, while moulded leather breastplates pose as porcelain and wood.
For the 2024 Artisanal Collection, Maison Margiela collaborates with Christian Louboutin on shoe designs fusing the iconography of the two houses. Conceived in an artistic exchange between Creative Director John Galliano and Christian Louboutin, the six haute couture silhouettes are founded in the ritual of dressing. They feature the shoe designer’s emblematic red sole and are set on12-cm heels. The pumps feature in black, white or beige leather and emerald velour.
The design evolves into Tabi two-piece heels with a classic ankle-strap in black neoprene or pink or emerald velour and faux lizard, and Tabi two-piece heels with an interlaced ankle-strap in black neoprene or velour and faux lizard in yellow, emerald or Eau de Nil. Likewise, crafted with prothèse-augmented heel caps and magnified platforms, Tabi knee-high boots in ponyskin interpret the retrograding central to the collection. Here, the reverse degradé of the technique is employed through hand-painting to evoke an animal-like sensibility.