Conception is a fusion of elements: the splicing of genetics, ideas and characteristics into a new expression. For the 2023 Co-Ed Collection, Maison Margiela conceives a multi-layered premise inspired by the procreation of Count and Hen, the fugitive protagonists introduced in its Artisanal 2022 proposal, Cinema Inferno. Imagining the lovechild the pair was expecting when we left them in July 2022 – on the run and trapped in a filmic loop – Creative Director John Galliano melds their stylistic natures into an individual aesthetic.
The offspring of Count’s aristocratic influence and the false pretentions of Hen’s upbringing, it is a cross-pollination embodied by the contemporary spirit of young rebels with a conscience. An illustration of the pyramidical structure of Maison Margiela – where the haute couture experimentation of the Artisanal Collection informs the ready-to-wear of the Co-Ed Collection and all its other lines – the story takes place within its new 16ᵉ arrondissement headquarters at 12 Place des États-Unis. A multi-disciplinary presentation plays out in physical and digital form.
Transforming the Maison into tableaux depicting the cinematic loop scenes from Cinema Inferno, its 2022 Artisanal creations are re-encountered from a new perspective within the atelier: the heart of the haute couture house. It paves the way for the continuation of the story, leading live spectators to the fifth floor where the 2023 Co-Ed Collection unfolds in a runway show. Simultaneously, the digital audience experiences the staging in a live stream filmed from a POV perspective.
Repurposing the inherited wardrobes of Count and Hen through the lens of a new generation, the collection examines youth-centric ideas of customisation and the re-contextualisation of memories. Jackets employ decortiqué – which cuts a garment to its structural core – in the creation of the Maison’s new Rorschach cutting, the subliminal subversion of one image into another. Here, cut-out motifs reminiscent of American Western yokes become pareidolic illusions of the ears of Mickey Mouse.
A subconscious childhood memory founded in joy, it triggers a collaboration with The Walt Disney Company expressed in Recicla Mickey Mouse cadet hats and t-shirts, some spliced with corsetry like an imagined exchange between the English caricaturist James Gillray and cyberpunk. In a study of hand-me-downs and the gestures that imbue garments with life, the practice of dressing in haste is applied to bias-cut dresses hacked up and spontaneously fixed into rompers, coining the technique of rompage.
Plaid shirts created with ®Pendleton and are worn back-to-front – an exercise echoed in coats and cardigans – and garments epitomic to haute couture or formal menswear cultures subverted through splicing and customisation. Employing the technique of freeze-framing, silhouettes render in tulle the movement of sculptural party dresses captured in mid-century photography. Sunglasses and spectacles used throughout the collection herald Maison Margiela’s new line of eyewear created with Gentle Monster.