When rumors began that John Galliano would be returning to fashion—at the helm of Maison Martin Margiela, no less—there was hesitation. Could he make a successful comeback? Could he keep Margiela’s aesthetic intact? In doing so could he stay true to his own talents? After yesterday’s premiere of his artisanal collection, it seemed like he was able to do exactly that. Of course he couldn’t please everyone, for diehard fans it was either was too Galliano or wasn’t enough—in reality it was a tightrope walk—a way for him to play it safe without leaning too far in either direction. It was an unassuming approach for his first collection back after his excommunication from the fashion world.
Of course for the comeback of a legend like Galliano, it’s no surprise that yesterday’s show was the place to be. It was a must-see event. Designers like Jasper Conran, Alber Elbaz, Nicola Formichetti and Manolo Blahnik sat front row—along with Christopher Bailey who ran over from his own presentation—next to major stylists, editors and models like Kate Moss. People waited with bated breath. Even a hashtag was created: #MargielaMonday. And that doesn’t happen for just any designer. It truly was the moment everyone was waiting for.
The collection was a mostly successful line of offbeat fashion, iconic for both designer and house, which drew on lines of royalty with rich red shades, lush fabrics and excessive embellishments. The whole thing was very Galliano—or was it Margiela? Understandably it was a middle road between the two, not particularly impressive for either camp, but in an attempt to please everyone (and being a little rusty after a three year hiatus), it was definitely a step in the right direction.
Overcoats and party dresses with 3D abstract faces were popular, two-toned accessories seemed to be a favorite and deconstructed opulence reigned supreme. With the exception of a few leopard print and jean pieces that felt more forced than restrictive, it was a beautiful line. The end of the show brought a few dresses that would have been right at home on the red carpet—even for those without a taste for theatrics. They were simple, elegant and beautiful.
Galliano returned amongst mixed reviews. He dipped his toes back into the water and although it wasn’t quite the cannonball people were expecting, it was a start. No one was offended, Margiela fans didn’t riot in the streets and there were no real scathing critiques—overall a successful debut. While he’ll likely continue to show restraint until he’s comfortably back in the spotlight, we’re hoping he pushes the envelope next season.