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. The Maison Margiela 2024 Artisanal Collection paints a picture of the practices and occurrences that shape the character reflected within our dress.
Borne out of an internal exploration foundedin consciousness, it 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, offline. Intrigued by the voyeuristic portraiture of Brassaï, a focused awarenessof our unnoticed surroundings unfolds: the night-time 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.Presaged by a cinematic prelude seeped in the eerie, rainy ambience of Paris by night, the show manifestsin a multi-disciplinary staging simultaneously filmed, edited and broadcast to physical and digital spectators.Would you like to take a walk with me, offline?
In a physical expression of emotional form, silhouettes are sculpted with body-modifying corsets and cinchersunderpinned by prothèses. They create the framework for studies of the ritual of dressing explored through hautecouture techniques reflected in the painter’s process, from line and shape to texture and value. Posing as heavy-dutywardrobe staples, featherlight jackets, coats and trousers are constructed through the technique of milletrage: a miragecreated from a filtrage composed of a mille-feuille of organza and felt under a wool crêpe printed with a trompe l’oeilof the texture of a classic gentleman’s cloth. It is draped – aquarelled – in a voilette of tulle illusorily printed to appearmoon-faded, sun-bleached, tobacco-stained or oily as if illumed by the reflection of water at night. Exercised throughemotional cutting, the garments are imbued with the unconscious gestures that shape our expressions: a cabanpulled over the head in the rain, a lapel raised to cover the face, a trouser hoicked up to evade a water puddle.
A reflection on the fragility of focus unfurls in dresses fashioned through forms of fade. Illustrating through painstakinghandwork the degeneration of detail that occurs when an image is imitated, thread-works of petals, godets, rosettesand ruching degrade from bottom to top in expressions of retrograding: a figurative technique nodding at the ideaof apparent lunar movement said to spin our energy inward and activate a deeper consciousness. Some interpretationsmaterialise 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-likerelationship formed between artists and their anatomical lay dolls. It is conveyed in doll-like accents, in the stripe-tease of shirting dresses, and in tweed skirt-suits created through the new technique of rétrécirage which partlyshrinks a garment to generate anatomical or coquettish expressions with illustrative shoulder lines. Created withChristian Louboutin, red-soled shoes sculpted with augmented heel caps and platforms echo the form languageof the collection.