Photo by Frank Perrin

By Crash redaction

For the 2022 Artisanal Collection, Maison Margiela stages Cinema Inferno at the Palais de Chaillot, an assemblage performance piece conceived in symbiosis with the haute couture collection. Identifying a post-digital desire for physicality, Creative Director John Galliano crafts a multi-disciplinary format: a theatre played out in front of live spectators, captured by cameras that integrate with the performance in a film simultaneously broadcast to a digital audience. The narrative was created by John Galliano and brought to life in collaboration with the British theatre company Imitating the Dog. A Southern Gothic tale unfolds in the dark, poetic heart of America as a sandstorm engulfs our story’s ill-fated lovers, Count and Hen. On the run and wounded from a gunfight, they drive through the Arizona desert in a filmic haze as their pasts flash before their eyes: the wedding of their abusive single parents that made them involuntary step-siblings, the elation of Hen’s pregnancy, and the subsequent parricide that turned them into outlaws at large. Delirious from their getaway, they pull up to an isolated hotel only to discover that it is, in fact, a cinema. Here, as they draw their last breaths, Count and Hen fall into a cinematic loop spun from the joys and traumas of their subconscious, their memories echoed in the iconic scenes of classic American films. Chased by apparitions of the law, they end up where they set out, escaping through the sandstorm forever after. Power-cut staples from the men’s wardrobe evoke the memory of Geneva Bands, classic haute couture silhouettes are imbued with the language of surgical scrubs, and sorbet-coloured prom expressions appear slashed and spliced. Sandstorming, a new Maison Margiela motif that intricately creates the impression of a sandstorm in a garment or accessory, features in fully engineered fabric weaves, in needle-punching, flocking, or beading. Recicla pieces employ antique 19th century bedlinens and collage original 20th designer pumps into new manifestations.