Of the many photo-worthy moments, dresses, and guests at yesterday’s Met Gala, Amal Clooney in her tiered, ruby gown, was among the most elegant. The gown, created by John Galliano—who was named creative director of Maison Margiela late last year—was an elaborate construction; its armor-like bodice contrasted with the skirt’s soft, occasionally embellished folds.
In red-carpet red, much like the shade Galliano used to great effect in his debut collection for Margiela, it was well-suited to the Gala’s China-inspired theme. Rather than camouflage Clooney, wife of dapper George and probably now the world’s most famous human-rights attorney, it made her stand out.
In case anyone doubted this was Vogue-approved, the magazine posted a behind-the-scenes Instagram of the gown’s fitting: Anna Wintour looks on beside two attendants in the uniform white lab coats of Maison Margiela. Galliano beams.
It’s a nice moment for the designer, considering it represents a landmark in his road to recovery after his highly visible fall from grace. It also happens to be completely antithetical to the original ethos and designs of Martin Margiela, the founder of Maison Margiela.
When Margiela appeared on the fashion scene in the late 1980s, he stood in stark contrast to the fashion system that prevailed. His avant-garde clothes were deconstructed and reconstructed: Dresses came together from a bricolage of men’s bow ties or gloves, jackets were covered in gaffer tape. He used weird proportions, offbeat models, and if there was glamour, it was an iconoclastic, intellectual sort. It wasn’t exactly red-carpet attire.
“He didn’t only introduce new clothes, he commented on the system, which was by then already very perverted and dominated by money,” Olivier Saillard, a fashion historian, says in the short documentary Yoox released about Margiela last month.
Margiela, who famously tried to remain as anonymous as possible, left his namesake label in 2009, several years after selling a majority stake to Renzo Rosso, owner of Diesel.
Today Galliano is making beautiful clothes for Maison Margiela, smiling for the camera, and chasing his creations up the red carpet, none of which was ever the point. It’s a new chapter—for both the designer and the house.