“You are about to enter my head, at your own risk! Mon dieu. Be careful, it can be a very dangerous place!” John Galliano laughs, little bit joking and a little not, as he talks to us about his great “leap” on Zoom, and how he became a director. Provided that the work he did for Maison Margiela can be defined as a 'film' - and only this - and which is at the same time a documentary, a story, an interactive provocation, something sincere, pure, extravagant.
Residents of the Paris neighborhood where Maison Margiela is based were recently surprised when they saw a drone hovering over St Joseph's church, then slip into an open window in the building opposite and disappear. The drone filmed from above Galliano and his team at work in the atelier, and is just one of the many images of the short film made for the new Artisanal collection that comes out today.
Whatever the damage that the fashion industry has suffered due to the pandemic, the boom of innovative ideas of this period, ideas that serve to talk about clothes, thoughts, exchanges of opinion, and humanity in a broad sense, is bringing quickly to a real revolution. “Very soon I realized that fashion, as we have presented and done it so far, would never be the same again,” says Galliano. “ It won't be until a vaccine is found. And only when I accepted this new reality within myself, was I able to welcome the idea that something new could happen, that we could really change things, have new ideas, be resourceful, and this rekindled my enthusiasm. Nothing can ever hinder the course of creativity, I will not allow this to happen!”
Courtesy of Maison Margiela
From an emotional point of view, Galliano has, in practice, overturned his mindset , the one that for years made him create "behind closed doors" and defined his personal safety zone and the codes of anonymity of Maison Margiela. Now, however, he has decided that he will show the world every single phase of the creation of the collection, in the smallest detail, with only some very special twists within his storytelling. “I thought, 'I'll be completely transparent.' I've always been afraid of appearing in front of the lens, and all those things you do when you know it's aimed at you, but I decided I was ready. And so I called Nick Knight , to whom I am very attached, and in whom I have great confidence."
The result? Two months of shooting documenting every move by Galliano and his team in every possible format. “I wanted to document the whole process in an almost voyeuristic way. Nick caught me from afar. There were drones flying around us, in and out of my conversations. And I was wearing two GoPro cameras, one on my head, one on my chest. " Knight also put together the calls on Zoom, the messages on the phone, the calls on FaceTime, he used the thermal camera and even an X-ray app, whatever tool could capture the details of my work, up close and from afar.”
“It was a completely new and very fun journey,” Galliano exclaims. And partly the technology has somehow returned to the collection. “It influenced the way I chose fabrics for some of the clothes, it was a really creative way of working. But, of course, a lot of the scenes are in real-time, with real clothes, because I think today you want to see real things too. I asked the kids to bounce back on their iPads at the start of the pandemic. They showed their experiments by cutting fabrics in 3D on the kitchen table, on the balcony, in the garage. In reality, it all started like this.”
This is the John Galliano narrator. But there must have been something else too. “I wanted to insert a double story”, he reflects. “There is the story of the collection, but inserted within a thriller. Because? Because I like the genre, I like horror movies and thrillers, and how they are built. And because for me, the thriller is the thrill of creation, research, discovery.”
The second part of the short film was instead shot in the Cotswolds, England, and follows the timeline (beginning-end) of the creative process, which goes from the creation of the garment to the shooting. An intense experience that, due to the safety regulations and the lockdown, brought the team together very much. “We had to be in a group on set, live together, eat together, all sleep in the same place. And then, suddenly, I can't explain it, the magic exploded. My muses have become interpreters of a force, I don't know where it came from. They were there, they lived this thing, all together: my clan, my tribe, all six of them. I wanted a connection to be made between them. When you see them in motion and they communicate 100% what they are wearing, there were times when I had to leave the set, for what I saw and felt, it was so exciting that I had to walk away ”.
And all those preconceived ideas about the digital representation of fashion, which leaves no room for emotion? Galliano today considers them obsolete. “Filming is stimulating, intellectually and emotionally. Many continue to say, 'How can an emotion be transmitted digitally?' Well, I think the emotion was palpable”. What came out, he says, is a sort of “prototype” for the future, which can be used “to activate different types of dialogue, and to make generations Y and Z understand in detail how we do things. How we created the fabrics ourselves, also from the interlinings, the way we overlap the fabrics, and how we created our embroideries, in short, how we industrialized ourselves, how we became enterprising."
Maison Margiela Artisanal Co-Ed Fall 2020 Couture Collection Fashion Show