Maison Margiela opens up new Paris headquarters to show a collection of rebellious glamour

Marking the inauguration of Maison Margiela’s new Place des États-Unis headquarters, creative director John Galliano’s co-ed collection was a triumphant ready-to-wear return to the runway

Maison Margiela A/W 2023 runway images
Maison Margiela A/W 2023
(Image credit: Courtesy of Maison Margiela)

While the dishevelled grandeur of a former convent in Paris’ 11th arrondissement once served as the headquarters of Maison Margiela – its walls and surfaces famously white-washed by eponymous founder Martin Margiela – 22 January 2023 marked the inauguration of a brand new home as the house threw open the doors to its gleaming new atelier in the rarefied 16th district, hosting a co-ed runway show in a celebration of its success under current creative director John Galliano. 

Located on Place des États-Unis – close to the Arc de Triomphe – the headquarters had been transformed into an immersive exhibition for the evening, for the select group of attendees. Led by trails of footprints that snaked through the offices, their shape recalling the maison’s split-toed ‘Tabi’ boots, guests were walked through the atelier where a vintage car had been erected from the ceiling as if plummeting from on high (its passengers, clad in tulle ruffles, were frozen mid-flight). The duo were meant to evoke Count and Hen, the fugitive star-crossed lovers of Galliano’s theatrical Southern Gothic-inspired Artisanal show last June, a film of which played on a loop in a mirrored 'Cinema Inferno' room next door. 

‘Young rebels with a conscience’: Maison Margiela A/W 2023

Woman on Maison Margiela runway in dress

Maison Margiela A/W 2023

(Image credit: Courtesy of Maison Margiela)

This milieu was a clue to the inspiration for the A/W 2023 season, which marked Maison Margiela’s ready-to-wear return to the runway since prior to the pandemic (it last showed in February 2020). ‘The co-ed presentation carries on where the story left off,’ said the collection notes, elucidating that Galliano had begun the collection by imagining the fictional love child of Count and Hen: ‘a fusion of elements, the splicing of genetics, ideas and characteristics into a new expression... the offspring of Count’s aristocratic influence and the false pretensions of Hen’s upbringing, it is a cross-pollination embodied by the contemporary spirit of young rebels with a conscience.’

After climbing to the fifth floor by elevator, the show itself took place on a sharply lit runway with mirrored walls, in part reminiscent of the optic-white hallways of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. ‘This is the future,’ declared a disembodied voice over the pounding soundtrack as Galliano’s spliced replicants lurched down the runway in a typically vivid amalgam of garments and reference points, often seeing clothes stripped down to reveal their construction – a process the house calls ‘decortiqué’ – in a nod to forebear Martin Margiela’s deconstructionist approach. ’Dressing in haste’, was one of the collection’s descriptors, here imagined in sliced-away bias-cut dresses and skirts that twisted around the body, shirts that appeared to have been thrown on backwards, or layers of garments tucked into fishnet stockings. Pieces of paper, reminiscent of punk flyers, were tucked into the back of clothing, while Mickey Mouse motifs appeared throughout.

Man on Maison Margiela runway

Maison Margiela A/W 2023

(Image credit: Courtesy of Maison Margiela)

As is typical of Galliano’s work, a defiant glamour wove these idiosyncratic elements together, with looks wrapped in layers of tulle or ripples of velvet or sequins; on the feet, riffs on the ‘Tabi’ came in vertiginous pointed patent heels or shimmering crystal Derby shoes (some in ruby slipper red). A series of grand opera coats, with various floral motifs and bows, were a nod to the designer’s ongoing fascination with haute couture, and a celebration of the house atelier. 

The evening ended with another climb to the highest point of the headquarters, a wraparound terrace with a 360-degree view of Paris beyond. On a vast billboard, a film by Nick Knight created for the relaunch of Maison Margiela’s e-commerce website played on a loop; in the distance, the Eiffel Tower provided a dramatic backdrop (as if on cue, it lit up with its sparkling light show). It was impossible not to be seduced by the moment – a triumphant housewarming as Maison Margiela enters its latest chapter.

Fashion Features Editor

Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*, joining the team in 2022. Having previously been the digital features editor at AnOther and digital editor at 10 and 10 Men magazines, he has also contributed to titles including i-D, Dazed, 10 Magazine, Mr Porter’s The Journal and more, while also featuring in Dazed: 32 Years Confused: The Covers, published by Rizzoli. He is particularly interested in the moments when fashion intersects with other creative disciplines – notably art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and reporting from international fashion weeks. Across his career, he has interviewed the fashion industry’s leading figures, including Rick Owens, Pieter Mulier, Jonathan Anderson, Grace Wales Bonner, Christian Lacroix, Kate Moss and Manolo Blahnik.