PFW SS21: Maison Margiela

FOR MAISON Margiela’s co-ed collection, their genderless iteration of ready-to-wear,  John Galliano delivered a sequel to his Artisanal presentation: S.W.A.L.K. II. The film was part documentation of his creative process, part fantastic narrative.

It flowed between Zoom calls between Galliano and his team, shots of the clothes in construction, alterations and experiments in the atelier, and the dark dreamscape where muses wearing the SS21 collection enact Galliano’s vision.

This holistic presentation was more accessible to an audience outside of the usual remit of the fashion show. In addition to the open access screening that has characterised mid-pandemic presentation, Galliano invited the viewer into his creative process. Clips offered insight into the production of garments, and we see Galliano discuss with his team ad his muses.

He decoded the Maison Margiela numbers, informing his audience that they signify classic styles and blocks of Margiela design: number 4 is iconic womenswear designs, number 14 menswear.

“Once you’re in the club, you know,” he says. Galliano is inviting all of his viewers into this club, blending an exquisitely produced depiction of his most recent work with the Zoom conversations with which we have all become so familiar.

The collection itself is rooted in Galliano’s exploration of tango culture in Buenos Aires. He developed a fantastical Buenos Aires where his cast danced and suffered passionately, centred around an ill-fated wedding. Galliano drew inspiration from 1930s dance marathons, where clothes and bodies would crease and bleed with fatigue, and South American 19th Century wedding photos.

His tailoring is deconstructed and sculptural. Sheer mesh was drawn across the muses’ heads, veiling their features from their viewers and confining them to Galliano’s moody dreamscape. The clothes were black, white and blood red; fringed with feathers and trailing cords that dramatised the muses’ movements.

Galliano leant into the physical effects that the exertion of the tango would have on his pieces. Suits were crafted with damp patches and stains until they appeared oily. His muses danced in great puddles, trailing the delicate layers of their clothes amongst a sodden mess of each other’s limbs.

Bloodied heels from pointed and heeled dance shoes were echoed in deep reds. The pieces were delicately ragged, enmeshed with vintage lace and tailored to deconstruct gendered silhouettes.



The collection was theatrical and romantic, eerily fantastical and exquisitely tailored, but Galliano’s delivery was frank and welcoming – a clever marriage of dark fantasy and Zoom-age accessibility.

by Connie de Pelet