Well, that didn’t take long. Having nailed a common ground for Maison Margiela’s aesthetic and his own with the Artisanal collection he presented in London, John Galliano galloped back into Paris with renewed confidence, surely bolstered by the sense of acceptance he must have felt after that London show. What he offered tonight extended that common ground into the febrile world of pure imagination that he once roamed with imperious invincibility. “A fashion lo-fi: like Polaroids inflected with acid dreams,” was the humble proposal of the show notes.

From acid dreams come forth the fabulous Blanche DuBoises and Marchesa Casatis that were always Galliano’s favorite characters. A smattering of such folles wended their frantic, frightened way down the catwalk, limbs akimbo, fluoro makeup askew. They were counterpoint to a collection that looked a lot like Margiela’s Replicas, pieces immaculately reconstituted from other times. That particular talent—the ability to remake, remodel, recontextualize—was always a facet of Galliano’s genius. And the coats here were a quintessential ’70s moment re-created with circulation-threatening sleeves and floor-sweeping lengths. Layer the gilded Art Deco-y one over a skinny rib-knit and a plaid mini and you could almost hear Galliano saying, “Take that, Hedi.”

The obtuse show notes also elevated innocence as “a new standard of beauty.” It was hardly the spirit of innocence that infused shady-lady lace and net pieces, but the repurposing of satin linings for pants had a Margiela-esque earnestness that fitted the brief. The sternness of a black leather jacket was diffused by chiffon sleeves. A peignoir was paired with Little Lord Fauntleroy britches. The jewel of the collection might have been the tiny teal jean jacket matched to a swathe of pinstriped skirt. All of it humble in essence.

Then there were les folles, Metropolis, and Petrouchka, jackets strapped to their backs, doomed to their theatrical traipsing. “An ephemeral muse returns…,” quoth the show notes. These are Galliano’s heroines, just like Tennessee Williams had his faded Southern belles. The fact that they were back on the catwalk was incontrovertible proof that Galliano himself is also back, as was, as will ever be.

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