Creative Director John Galliano’s Fall 2022 presentation drew inspiration from theater and the American narrative

“Make-believe is driven by instinct,” reads a statement from Maison Margiela on its Fall 2022 couture collection. “Born out of the subconscious, it is an imaginary expression of our innermost thrills and tribulations.”

Yesterday, the label staged Cinema Inferno—equal parts runway show and performance piece—inside Paris’s Palais de Chaillot. Creative Director John Galliano collaborated with Imitating the Dog, a British theater company, to realize a Southern Gothic psycho-drama set in the heart of America. “Told through the grammar of haute couture, Cinema Inferno explores representations of the patriarchal abuse of power—parental, legal, educational, religious, medical—in fabric and cutting techniques developed in the Artisanal atelier,” continues the maison.

The model-performers donned ensembles at the height of costumery—sartorial feats incorporating a handful of innovative techniques. ‘Sandstorming’ weathered the exterior of floor-length, sculptural coats. ‘Power-cutting’ strengthened the silhouette, evoking modes of dress typically associated with authority. ‘Fabric plumage’ involved hacking at double-organza, creating the illusion of feathers. Romantic tulle ‘prom’ dresses juxtaposed with cowboy hats and boots, creating a varied collection that revolved around an unmistakably American narrative.

“I thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful to embrace fashion, theater, digital—all the cultures?” said Galliano post-show. “This is haute couture. The highest form of dressmaking!”