As seen in the pages of V148, our new summer 2024 issue, photographer Sølve Sundsbø with stylist George Cortina captured one of fashion’s (and John Galliano’s) most viral collections to date since debuting on the Parisian runways in January of this year. “This collection wasn’t about a specific garment, it had a story. It’s about the past, youth, beauty, the grotesque, humanity, sex… witnessing it felt like an out-of-body experience,” explains V‘s Fashion Director Gro Curtis when asked about the collection. “It was deeper and so romantic. It reminded all of us sitting there why we fell in love with fashion. We missed it. It’s been more than a decade since we truly felt something during a fashion show. We all felt human again. It wasn’t about garments. It was about all of us. All of us working in fashion. And that’s why it was so personal.”

Tapping into the theatrical ethos of the couture, V spoke to the figures and forces that witnessed the mega-viral Maison Margiela 2024 artisanal couture collection come to life, such as Dame Pat McGrath, Lulu Tenney, Gwendoline Christie, Christian Louboutin, and many more.

“This collection is not designed to fit a market or a marketing need. Its reason for being is one person’s boundless creativity. And imagination. Its importance not only stems from the incredible clothes, hair, makeup and performances during the show. It doesn’t try to be cool or modern. It finds enduring value in being timeless. That today, feels unique and very important. Maybe its most important legacy will be to remind us all what fashion shows can be and used to be. I sometimes say that it used to be called the fashion world, then it was the fashion business and now it’s called the fashion industry. This show took me back to the fashion world.”

—Sølve Sundsbø, photographer

“I’ve seen a lot of corporate takeovers and a lot of CEOs appointing people to houses, but I haven’t seen a collection in a very long time. This is the first time I’ve seen a designer make a collection that resounded all over the world. Everything else is rather lackluster in comparison. It was such a pleasure to work with those clothes—it was like being a kid again. I think we’ve forgotten what it’s all about. It’s about the dream.”

—George Cortina, stylist

“This collection was the marker of a rebirth of wild fashion fantasy that had been missing for a while. I was too young to be aware of John Galliano’s shows from the ‘90s and early 2000s at the time but have adored them since discovering them a bit later. Lots of people who witnessed those shows firsthand have told me how reminiscent this show was of that energy.
It’s a story that is multifaceted, beautiful, dark, and intense— something that you never really see these days. My goal was to bring the clothes to life. There is so much attention to detail, you can’t even imagine how much thought goes into it all. John and the team had been working on this, building this for so long that I just hoped to do my role justice and fit into the world that they had crafted. John gives the muses so much to work with, and everything is laid in place so that the character comes quite naturally and you can just play around, because you also know that he trusts you.”

—Lulu Tenney, model

“A visionary fusion of art and fashion, this collection is important because it pushed the boundaries of creativity, craftsmanship, and storytelling in couture. By examining the ritual of dressing as an emotional expression, John Galliano crafted exquisite pieces that transcended being just clothing. The makeup not only elevated the looks from pure aesthetics to powerful characterizations, but it also echoed Galliano’s aims by asserting the power of beauty as a form of emotional expression. The energy backstage and during rehearsal was electric. There was a palpable sense of excitement, awe, and anticipation amongst all of us who collaborated on the show at finally seeing the results of our collective creativity and artistry. I was enchanted by the sheer beauty and artistry of the show and awed by seeing it all come together after weeks of planning. I felt blessed to be able to collaborate with John and his team and I was immensely proud of my team, not only for expertly executing such an intricate and complicated look, but for all of their hard work leading up to the show, which included hours of testing, practising and perfecting the new technique.”

—Dame Pat McGrath, makeup artist

“I have wanted to work with John Galliano for 30 years. His fashion shows were always a theatrical spectacular and the models were full of character and bursting with dazzling story. The execution of his craft was unlike anything I had ever seen. It was an impossible dream until this moment. Backstage when I saw the looks lined up just before the show, I was awe-struck. It was
a moment I had craved and dreamed of for a very long time. I could thrillingly recognize tiny elements of John’s signature here and there from the thirty years that I have loved his work, but I was blasted into a new reality seeing looks I have never seen before. Unlike anything! Sensational, sexual, and with laser precision of execution. Each look ‘spoke.’ It made me very emotional to see that level of talent and skill and to have the honor of closing the show and realizing a dream I had always been told was impossible. My idol told me I was beautiful and at last I could believe it.”

—Gwendoline Christie, actor and model
All clothing, accessories MAISON MARGIELA ARTISANAL, designed by John Galliano / Shoes

“John and I met about 40 years ago when he first moved to Paris. Working with someone you love and respect was really the nice part of the collaboration. And, Maison Margiela has such precise and strong codes that you can refer to and which are very well preserved. The main [source of] creativity came from body shapes. What is amazing about John [Galliano] is that he is always thinking of different characters when he is creating, who can be real or not. Here it’s all about curves and voluptuousness.”

—Christian Louboutin, designer

“My favorite detail about this collection was the makeup. Pat McGrath is a makeup wizard and whatever she puts her hands on turns to gold. This is Pat McGrath’s triumph as much as it is John Galliano’s. To have the whole Internet talk about how she achieved the porcelain doll look and people creating theories and trying to crack Pat McGrath’s brilliance was only a testament to her talent. I have never seen such an interest in makeup to the point that she had a live stream on TikTok recreating the look. It felt like we asked DaVinci to paint the Mona Lisa again but on TikTok live stream. It’s remarkable. This collection is important because it’s going to be remembered as one of the great collections. It feels like we don’t get many of those nowadays but once in a blue moon, we get an amazing collection like this. When I say the greats, I am talking about the shows that we still talk about,  many shows by Alexander McQueen or John Galliano at Dior. But the collection was important, because the stars aligned. From clothes to the theatrics, to make up, this collection showed what fashion is supposed to do and that is present clothes wrapped in a story and performance.”

—Hanan Besovic, creator of @ideservecouture

This story appears in the pages of V148: now available for purchase!

Photography Sølve Sundsbø

Fashion George Cortina

Makeup Stéphane Marais @L’Atelier NYC using CHANEL BEAUTY

Hair Laurent Philippon (Bryant Artists)

Models Lulu Tenney (Lumien Creative), Dara Gueye (DNA), Yeray Allgayer (Success)

Manicure Christina Conrad (Calliste) using CHANEL BEAUTY

Set design Jean-Michel Bertin (Streeters)

Producer Michael Lacomblez (Louis2)

Production manager Nihel Zoubeidi (Louis2)

Studio manager Paula Ekenger

Digital technician Lucie Rowan

Photo assistants Michael O. Williams, Matthew Davies, Henri de Carvalho

Stylist assistants Peter Aluuan, Moses Moreno

Makeup assistants Marie Dufresne, Céline Charpentier

Hair assistant Michael Thanh Bui

Set design assistants Ines Haym, Mehdy Briand

Production assistant Houda Bemmansour

Retouching Digital Light Ltd

Location M Studio 

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