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Horns blared and images flashed in black-and-white, panning out on a dark, stormy coast to mark the start of Maison Margiela’s film introducing its Artisanal 2021 collection. Titled A Folk Horror Tale, the feature-length work directed by Olivier Dahan captured words from Creative Director John Galliano, before transitioning to a fishing town at dawn, where workers mended nets and collected materials on the beach— dressed in garb that was neither period nor blatantly contemporary.
Dark, gloomy tones mimicked the palette used by Dutch masters, following a cast of characters through a sequence of terrifying, unexplainable events like supernatural happenings, hazy battle scenes, and moonlit dances under a red sky. With each scene, the film slowly unfolded the collection of billowing silhouettes that made us think of another place and time—like full trousers, amply-cut pieces employing neoclassical draping, Dutch caps with rolled brims, and thick shirts imagined in quilted, textural muslin.
Materials were a key focus throughout the collection, and certainly a transformative element that added to the mystery of place and time. We saw vintage and deadstock wools, cottons, and jacquards, along with recycled items hand-picked by Gaillano from vintage shops, reimagined with new life and marked with the label “Recicla,” like the antique Delft blue fabric, upcycled into a ruffled-and-patchwork gown. The house also employed a special technique called essorage, beginning with garments originally cut up to twelve times too large, which were then shrunk and weathered by a series of and stonewash treatments, leaving them looking as though they were first created many, many years ago.
As in the film, the collection palette drew from the colors prominent in the Dutch Renaissance, including lighter tones like lavender, peach, and sage, and contrasting dark greens, navy, and black. These were seen across looks like a patchwork jacket with open seams styled with yellow waders and a matching cushiony shoulder bag; a quilted shirt-and-trousers pairing featuring frayed sleeves, a scarf worn around the neck, and a white cap; and a long draped and gathered dress in cream seen in the film styled with an animal mask and clogs.
Also of note were the collection’s three artist collaborations, including hand-embroidery by Celia Pym, applied to a wool-and-newspaper jumper; an entire dress crafted from stained mirror fragments and leather lacing (a collection highlight) by Hélène Vitali, which was seen styled with a matching crown; and a contribution from Anna Sokolova, who hand-painted a “Recicla” garment combining rubber waders and wooden Tabi clogs with an ominous reimagining of a traditional Delft blue pattern.