As a continuation of Maison Margiela's artisanal autumn/winter 2020 short film, creative director John Galliano presented S.W.A.L.K. II (Sealed With A Loving Kiss, Part 2) for the house's co-ed spring/summer 2021 collection. While both films share certain similarities in the way that Nick Knight has directed them, they're visually quite independent from each other, especially in their narratives.
There's a reason why the two collections are seemingly linked in this way. Galliano wanted to show how the artisanal collection (the house's haute couture line) informed the proceeding co-ed spring/summer 2021 collection. The techniques that have been developed for the former have been industrialised and reworked in a less labour-intensive manner for spring/summer 2021, but still capturing the artistic essence of each technique.
S.W.A.L.K. II—much like the first instalment—cuts between discussions between Galliano and his team of creatives to showroom fittings to the actual narrative of the collection. For co-ed spring/summer 2021, it was a tango tussle of love and family drama set within a gothic visual concept. Models tangoed on water and in some scenes, were submerged and left suspended in a body of water (an arresting way of capturing the magnificence of the fabrications used for the collection) all while creating lines with the house's deconstructed-construction ready-to-wear pieces.
What set this apart from the other fashion films of the season is in the way that Galliano delved deep into explaining the motifs and processes behind the key traits of the collection. The 'Recicla' concept that he first introduced for autumn/winter 2020 (involving the upcycling of existing found vintage pieces) is set to continue for spring/summer 2021. "Breathing life back into charity shop finds, repurposing wicker bags, utilising dead-stock fabrics, and using offcuts or luxury leathers—all speak to the mentality and ethic of today," Galliano expresses in a voice-over, as an artisan works on a piece that would end up as look 21.
The short film runs long at 44 minutes but is such a joy to watch and discover. It definitely beats watching a digital runway show.
Look and feel: As with every Maison Margiela collection, there was the typical deconstructed-construction aesthetic that's apparent in every look. But for spring/summer 2021, they're imbued with a sense of fragility, especially with the use of veiled coverings (not pandemic-friendly but achingly beautiful nonetheless) and precisely administered cutouts. While there was an overall '30s feel to the collection—most apparent in the more beret-ed and suspender-ed looks—the tailoring, as Galliano describes is "proper tailoring", with full canvassing and was generously cut throughout.
Favourite looks: For starters, the black trench coat in look 4 that has been detailed with cutout puffed shoulders and distressed sleeves. And in an almost similar treatment, the contrasting look 5 consisting of a white, slashed blazer riddled with frayed ends but still remarkably finished where it mattered. For a fine example of the collection's fabric treatments, look 15's almost oil-slicked appearance on a pinstripe suit made it seem like it was crafted out of two different fabrics. The highlight however, would be the 'wedding' outfit that is look 30—severely simple as compared to the rest of the collection but no doubt meticulously crafted and styled with the season's Mary Janes.
Favourite accessories: While the Tabi manipulations continued, it was the Mary Jane shoes that caught our eye. They were extremely pointed—as compared to the rounded silhouettes afforded by the Tabis—and came in varied materials. We're eyeing the ones crafted from jacquard (looks 30 and 37) that would make for excellent footwear with more tailored pieces.