An Ode To Punk. Maison Margiela AW23

The world became a sadder place without the Dame and the Queen of punk, Vivienne Westwood, who passed away just a couple of days before the New Year. Who else could create a more authentic and vivid tribute to Westwood’s work – and the entire subculture she helped create and kept leading – than John Galliano? His co-ed autumn-winter 2023 collection for Maison Margiela, one of the best ready-to-wear collections he’s done for the brand in a while, makes you believe punk isn’t dead. Galliano brought up the term ‘Rorschach test’ for the subjective seeing of different things when we look at fashion. Through these eyes, it looked very like a fierce, urgent reveling in the subcultural spirit of the 1970s and early ’80s in London – Galliano’s youth, but brought forward, mashed up for today. “You might see some familiar figures in it,” he suggested. “Jordan on the King’s Road; the fishnets; Johnny Rotten, maybe.” He’d sent out crude collaged photocopied flyers with his invitations – like fanzines and invites to underground gigs, the way kids navigated nightlife long before mobile phones. A couple of models were clutching them with their handbags as they lurched down the runway, as if in a hurry to get somewhere. In some of their hats, fancifully collaged from trash bags and scraps of tulle, were cockades made from chopped-up flyers. The plaids didn’t look like punk tartan – Westwood’s eternally favorite fabric—but then again, it almost did. And, to these eyes at least, there she was, almost personified in the girls who were dashing along in Galliano’s ingeniously wrapped pencil skirts – the sexy ’50s rocker style that Vivienne always spoke about as the first clothes she loved making for herself as a teenager. If that really was a salute to the late designer, it was also mixed up in the layers and layers of Galliano’s spins on 1950s tulle ballgowns, his huge, swinging opera coats, and chopped-up Americana. There were also Western-type jackets with Mickey Mouse plackets, Hawaiian prints, all seen through a punk, D-I-Y filter. Beautiful and emotionally moving.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Vivienne Westwood Forever

I’m lost for words. Our culture has lost another legend, the ultimate DAME, the truest punk, the Queen of British fashion, one of the most caring souls in this industry, a real activist who never cared about the establishment, the one and only Vivienne Westwood. Thank you for teaching us that fashion can be absolutely something more than just clothes, it can speak volumes and be political. Rest in Peace, Rest in Power. You will forever stay in our hearts, and your work and contribution will keep on inspiring. Deepest condolences to Andreas Kronthaler, her loving life-partner, and her family.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Tisci’s Take. Burberry SS19

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London fashion week didn’t see a big debut for a while. But was it worth the wait? Riccardo Tisci at Burberry seemed to be an unlikely choice from the beginning. The brand’s logo and identity changes felt vague and predictable. A post-show, 24 hours only merch shopping via Instagram had to have everyone like ‘wow’, but I guess no one really bothered to buy anything. You might think that 134 looks in a collection have to speak loud and clear about the designer’s vision. That’s what I thought before. Well, maybe that number of looks tried to say a word or two, but in overall it felt like Tisci wanted to seize too much and mention too many things at a time in his first collection for this historic, British brand. The first part of the collection referred to Burberry’s heritage – trench coats, Burbs checks and silk foulards – and played with the notion of conservative, British middle class from the Thatcher era. If Riccardo developed that a bit further and kept the show in these 50 outfits, that might have been a good shot . But then, a dozen of identical menswear looks appeared, aesthetically closer to Prada and 90s Helmut Lang than Burberry. Another ton of womenswear (this time related to the punk movement, unfortunately looking shallow, preppy and… tired) and a portion of men’s unamusing streetwear (think sweatshirts and prints that are very close to Riccardo’s work at Givenchy – this time, however, we’ve got creepy, Victorian families photo instead of Catholic iconography) appeared on the runway.  In the end, we had this quite stiff line-up of ladies’ eveningwear. I liked Christopher Bailey’s last seasons at Burberry, but I never really looked at his collections again. Tisci’s debut could have been more focused and gripping, that’s sure, but let’s give him time. And please, narrow down that scope!

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Punk Dandy. Haider Ackermann AW17

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Haider Ackermann is about to present his first collection for Berluti this week – so no wonder why he decided to make his autumn-winter 2017 collection a kind of “designer aesthetic” retrospective filled with his signature essentials. It was pure Haider, but even sharper and fiercer than usual. Inspired by punk and hard-rock subcultures, Ackermann conveyed the rebellious attitude in leather biker jackets, skinny pants in tartan plaid and slouchy robe-coats. ‘Stitched’ velvet suits looked especially impressive and badass. Dangerous and appealing – those two terms well describe these Haider’s dandy-ish rockman.

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The New Revolutionaries

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Fashion is continuous in communicating on what’s happening in the world. Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren shaped the 70s punk scene in Great Britain, shaking up the aristocratic nation; Marc Jacobs took grunge into the world of high fashion at Perry Ellis in 1993. There was Raf Simons with studded, skinny pants for boys, and Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent years later, reviving Yves’ (in)famous scandale spirit. All of those designers wanted to show rebellion, and made history. This season, the mood of rebellion was present, too, but introduced in a different way. If you want to look defiant, leave your mud-splattered boots behind.

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Marc Jacobs and Lucie de la Falaise, Perry Ellis era

Take Rei Kawabuko and her autumn-winter 2016 collection at Comme des Garçons – it was an ode to the 18th century, but not in the way you might have expected. The silhouettes were voluminous, while the textures clashed with contrasts. Instead of embroideries and embellishments, opulence played a different role. “The 18th century was a time of change and revolution,” Rei said. “This is how I imagine punks would look, if they had lived in this century.” Think about French aristocracy, and just remind yourself some Marie Antoinette’s pouf hair-style or Louis XIV’s obsession with heels. Ball-dresses, splendour of colours – this is how the Incroyables originated, putting a barrier between them, and others. Their looks shouted “I’m in the elite – you’re NOT”. In fact that was a kind of punk gesture, if you look at that from another perspective. Paradoxically, Kawakubo wasn’t mistaken – punks, different punks, already existed before Dame Vivienne. Living in their saccharine wardrobes and eating cupcakes while the poor starved was to an extend… radical.

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Comme des Garcons AW16

Good times changed for aristocracy, and the French revolution proves that. John Galliano‘s spring-summer 1993 collection was a modern-day interpretation, of how a Merveilleuse (female equivalent for Incroyable) could have looked before execution. Of course with grace! A sheer  dress which looked nearly like a piece of underwear; her hair of fleek. Decapitation had to be chic, and Galliano’s spectacular collection filled with tattered frock coats, dilapidated chiffon, and extravagantly puff-sleeved gowns was a controversial success.

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All of the above: John Galliano SS93

But coming back to 2016. Marc Jacobs‘ latest outing was all about full skirts and big dresses in polished leather. Platforms were there. Those ladies were like the bad queens and bad princesses from a fantasy, while their outfits were loud nods to monarchy looks. For Maison Margiela, Galliano devoted his haute couture collection once again to the Incroyables, presenting coats with exaggerated tails. But this time, the one-of-a-kind pieces were mixed with high-tech textiles and hand-made chantilly lace. John explained his artisanal season as a reflection of today’s world troubles. “I didn’t want to repeat what I did as a kid,” said Galliano. “But it has the rebellious attitude of youth.” Lastly, Dries Van Noten was inspired with Marchesa Casati’s avant-garde aura. She was, you’ve guessed well, an unconventional aristocrat, with her smokey eyes, layers of pearl necklaces and exotic furs. She looked different that all the other fancy dames from those times – and that’s why Dries felt appeal to her. An embodiment of punk? Yes.

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Marc Jacobs AW16

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Dries Van Noten AW16

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Dries Van Noten AW16

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Above: Maison Margiela Haute Couture AW16

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