Underneath everything, there’s a battle going on between creativity and commerciality in fashion this season. Must it be that binary? When John Galliano’s models waded, heads down, into the situation at Maison Margiela, they were wearing a collection that couldn’t have been more fiercely imaginative but was also studded with wearable gems.

The coed show started with a passage of black tailored coats and suits, dramatic volumes that the models were clutching about themselves, deconstructed white shirt collars at their necks. It began a breathtaking Galliano essay in breaking down and translating elements of 21st-century high fashion, bringing ball gowns and haute couture, hourglass silhouettes, and wildly eccentric 1950s hats into the bargain.

The spell that Galliano cast involved all of the genius he brings from a lifetime’s experience in fashion—his fluency in techniques learned from years at a couture house combined with all the rule-breaking energy of his Central Saint Martins student days. It reveled in the archaeology of vintage garments—bodices, linings, and petticoats chopped up, turned inside out, and cobbled together again with a zinging sense of color. It involved trash bags, laminated plastic, and wonkily chic lampshade hats made out of wire. The cast of young models projected it all with a perfectly rehearsed forward-lunging attitude, hands on hips, a troupe of ’50s couture mannequins gone rogue.

The mayhem of it—the proof that such beauty can be made out of trash, remnants, skill, and imagination—was one of the highlights of the entire season. Galliano is a standard-bearer for creativity; an inspiration to the young generations who adore him. When all is said and done, though, he also put out some of the most desirable coats, tailored jackets, trenches, and duffle coats to be found anywhere.

This article was originally published on Vogue Runway.

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