Maison Margiela Paris Fashion Week Spring 2016

A girl in a giant green beehive with silver petal–painted eyes, wearing a ’50s three-quarter-sleeved clutch coat and a pair of pointy white pumps with bulbous molded heels and toting a capacious white bag was the opener. She marked the takeoff point for John Galliano’s most rounded and product-filled Maison Margiela collection so far. “Lo-fi, sci-fi” was his tagline for it: words that came via email rather than straight from the designer’s mouth, as he doesn’t appear at the end of his shows now—one of Margiela’s house traditions he surely values.

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But this was a wholly Galliano trip, not an old-school Margiela one. He made a delightful merge of vintage-y eccentricity, Japanese geisha styling, and color—themes that have constantly been part of Galliano’s design territory from the beginning, of course. The good news was that, despite the extreme teased updos and his casting of several androgynous boys to wear dresses, this was not one of his excursions into a fantasia of old: He had grounded it in a slew of believably wearable clothes, for the first time since he arrived at Margiela. At one end of the spectrum, there was crystal embroidery resembling dangly earrings smothering a mint green ’50s coat; at the other, a pragmatic tailored grass green suit with skinny trousers and a body jacket. In between, plenty of skirts that might make us think differently about narrow, just-above-the-ankle proportions, maybe worn with fitted peplumed tops. And then, for evening and events, numerous dresses in extraordinarily subtle combinations of kimono-inspired prints and tints—as well as a glimpse of a gold satin bias-cut slip dress of the kind the designer brought into fashion in the ’90s. Galliano is back on his game again—a relief for those who supported him in the first place and a thrill for another generation who’ve grown up to see him through new eyes.

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