Olivier Dahan Directs Seductively Surreal Film For Margiela Spring 2022 Collection

For more than a year’s time, following on from the first lockdowns, what we were wearing on a day to day basis just didn’t seem to be all that important (survival tends to trump all other matters, when we come face to face with it). But more than just the simple act of going to a clothing shop and buying something we are excited to put on, what also went missing during that time was the cultural frisson of electric collaborations by the top fashion houses and the notable creatives they would tend to enlist for those very collaborations.

But fashion is definitely back, if such recent pairings are any indication. Just this summer there was Sofia Coppola for Chanel, Luca Guadagnino for Fendi, and Wim Wenders for Ferragamo. And now for its Spring 2022 Co-ed campaign, Maison Margiela has tapped Olivier Dahan to direct a genuinely surreal bit of celluloid, which we seriously just can’t stop watching. The collection itself, by Creative Director John Galliano (he was given the job in 2014, a comeback from his very public fall from grace three years earlier), is meant as an homage to what he calls the new “Utopian Youth” (though as far as we can tell, it’s a social media dystopia that rules their lives.)

Venerable filmmaker Dahan rose to international recognition, of course, with his 2007 masterpiece La Vie en rose, starring a then-barely-known Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf, in an Oscar-winning role. He has since directed Renée Zellweger in My Own Love Song, and Nicole Kidman in Grace of Monaco. But for Margiela he seems to have been charged with interpreting a fantastical dream that Mr. Galliano had indeed dreamed, inspired by the poetry of the great English mystic William Blake.

Of the Artisanal Collection itself, the house forwards that, “John Galliano develops the grammar of haute couture into Défilé expressions reflective of the power of nature and the passage of time.” And to be sure, there’s an almost sylvan aesthetic expression that runs throughout, and high / low fabric juxtapositions are a distinct feature – weather-beaten fair isle knitwear, padded wools and velvets to which the unusual technique of essorage (spin-drying) was applied. In the overall, a palette of black, navy, indigo, yellow and Delft blue coalesces in a kind of somber but seductive elegance.

Dahan’s accompanying film is full of intrigues, seeming to be begging for multiple interpretations. And as the music first kicks in – what sounds like a slightly sedated Iggy Pop fronting Stereolab – the opening lyrics perhaps provide the perfect setup: “There is danger in his eyes / He doesn’t know, he’s not aware / You won’t see him at night / You can call him a monster.”

It all ends with a weirdly hypnotic dance party, followed by an exuberant blast of glam rock, and an apparent sexual climax, cut off just in time to let the imagination run wild. Just a day in the life of Maison Margiela, apparently.

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