Like snow on a sunny day: two labels a study in contrasts at Paris Fashion Week

Cult brands Maison Margiela and Dries Van Noten, among the favourites of Hong Kong’s fashionistas - took unexpected, yet very different turns at the start of Paris Fashion Week

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 March, 2016, 3:14pm
UPDATED : Friday, 04 March, 2016, 3:25pm

Paris Fashion Week started with a 30-minute snowstorm that covered the city on an otherwise sunny day. Unexpected and dramatic, it was perhaps a sign of what’s to come this season, not least from

Maison Margiela and Dries Van Noten, who showed that day. Here were two auteur labels – each with loyal followers in Hong Kong – both richly expressive, yet so differently expressed.

Belgian powerhouse Dries Van Noten impressed audiences with a collection inspired by a dark Venetian love story turned into epic tragedy. Mascara running under models’ eyes, the picture was at times as much macabre as it was fascinating – outfits oscillating between masculine prep school uniforms and leopard print and vampiric jazz-era gowns embellished with rows of pearls and sequins.

Drama was implicit here, infused with that magic Dries touch, and transporting us to another world. Previous seasons seemed almost easy-going compared with the dark severity and emotional intensity of this collection. Many of these outfits showed a new level of glamour for the brand. It was all so beautifully executed, elevated in a way that is unique to this designer; no wonder he remains such an enigma.

Maison Margiela, meanwhile, took a notable turn under the helm of John Galliano, whose autumn-winter 16 collection for the brand came almost full circle to the style he was known for during his time at Christian Dior. Brave, bold clashes defined the looks – huge, cartoonish buckled belts accented sheer lacy frills and sexy shimmering fabrics. Some of these details, especially the oversize satin bows, flounces and severely bobbed hair were a reference to his own oeuvre. It was a subversive mix of opposites: hard and soft, feminine and military.

There was one silver slip of a gown and a few military-style jackets that stayed very true to Margiela roots, but when you have a designer as distinctive as Galliano, there is always going to be a battle of identities at a brand like Margiela.

A new era seems to be here – bolder, more showy and flamboyant. Perhaps Galliano is gaining confidence in his comeback and second chance at fashion. Certainly this collection will win some new Margiela fans, but is it enough to keep old ones happy?