Oh, to live in his world… John Galliano’s Co-Ed collection – his name for his all-gendered ready-to-wear – carries all the hallmarks of the terrific Artisanal haute couture collection that he launched with a film back in July. To recap: the narrative swirled through a fantasy that connected historic imagery of Dutch fishermen with an imagined community of young Maison Margiela survivors, washed up together on a coastline. For spring-summer 2022, Galliano re-emphasized how inspired he’s been by “the dreams of the future that young people are having, and making their reality.” All his experimental work of last summer has now flowed down into a highly inventive haul of romantic-utilitarian textures, new silhouettes, sweeping coats, fragile dresses, desirable knitwear – and thigh-high fishing waders. While working through his fisher-people theme, Galliano said he’d come across the new phenomenon of electro-magnetic fly-fishing. “What the kids are doing now, is they’ve got these magnetic fishing lines, and they’re going out to fish out the trash in Canal Saint Martin, and estuaries. I thought, how genius!” he exclaimed. “This is something that is becoming a hobby. So the waders are perfect to wear when you go out electro-magnetic fishing!” He noted that the waders and the bright red, yellow, and blue tabi-boots also comply with the wishes of the climate-conscious generation. “They’re bio-degradable, I should add. Pops of color in 3-D printed, molded rubber.” Designing for what he imagines as this new brigade of ‘Utopian Youth’ triggered a whole raft of free-floating creativity. There are coats decorated with feathered fishing flies and others braided from strips of gray herringbone to look like a net, sailor collars, a brilliantly voluminous pair of high-waisted Dutch-boy trousers, and a conceptual meeting of cotton sou’westers and 17th century Flemish hats on the heads. Knitwear sails through reinterpretations of traditional Guernseys and Fair Isles and lands at one point on an amazing cream and blue- embroidered Delft-tile patchwork cardigan. There’s an air of the reclaimed, semi-destroyed, and reconfigured about the collection that is very in sync with Martin Margiela history here. That’s no stretch for Galliano, who takes glee in turning garments inside out, exposing seams, weathering, shrinking, and overdyeing fabrics. His ‘neo-alchemy’ has a sensitive, erotic, mysterious touch that is all his own. There’s a celadon silk faille beaded dress “that you can shrug off to reveal the lining,” sheer layers of black chiffon veiling, and a slip dress of spider-fine knit, covered with an iridescent mesh composed of recycled glasses lenses. As he signed off the call, he was laughing. “As a designer one is always trying to find a new way to communicate sensuality; what you reveal, what you don’t. I know there’s quite a lot of noise about S-E-X at the moment. But it’s a bit what we always think of…”
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.