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Beginnings: Collaborating with Maison Margiela

6th July 2022 by Lauren Randall

A Cinema Inferno Blog

My first meeting with Maison Margiela’s creative director John Galliano takes place in Schaffhausen, a small town in Switzerland. It’s late November 2021 and the Covid 19 pandemic is still creating uncertainty and chaos everywhere.  He’s flying over to see our adaptation of Dracula: the Untold Story, to discuss a possible collaboration with the Parisian fashion house.  This request comes out of the blue and I am asked to look at the documentation of his 2021 collection, which consists of a series of films made with Olivier Dahan.  I am immediately struck by two things. First of all, the extraordinary beauty and artistry of the collection – it’s an art form that I have been aware of, but I’ve never really given it my close attention. I am captivated.  Secondly, I discern that storytelling is at the centre of the collection as multiple narratives weave around ideas of nature, cults, living off the sea, and the restless operations of time, memory and history. 

After seeing Dracula, John describes his concept for Maison Margiela’s new collection.  There’s a fragment of a story.  A young couple, a woman called Hen, a man called Count, are on the run across a dreamscape America and hide out in out-of-town cinemas watching old movies.  And it’s in these movies that we see the new collection. We talk about films that inspire us, he tells me that there’s a sandstorm, that there’s a back story about a stolen coat; he tells me that he does not want to return to a classic runway/catwalk show; that he wants to do something very different.

A week later Pete and I go to Paris, and we have a full day’s meeting.  John shows us his previous collection in his studio.  It’s exquisite. In the flesh, textures, and stunning colours; he talks about enzyme washing, erosion and weathering; we look at huge white pin boards that are replete with reference images. There are bows, fabrics, different sands. There’s something about the art of deconstructing and reconstructing, of fusing pieces together and seeing the seams of different forms and materials make a new whole, that strikes a familiar chord. We talk and talk.

In response I write a short story.  Pete, Simon, and I discuss a loop structure.  Something that has fascinated us for a long time, drawing inspiration specifically from Alan Moore’s ‘Ring Road’ in a 2000AD comic that came out in 1983. 

Our protagonists are on the run, but unknown to them, they are already dead, trapped in a loop in time, chased by spectral cowboys unleashed by the crime they have committed.  It’s as if they are trapped in a film loop and are haunted by fragments of old movies, by the splintered pieces of American mythology.  This is to be a psycho-drama, an American Gothic tale of a young couple’s search for redemption in a world in which faith seems to have lost its currency.

This was how we began.  It seems like a long time ago now.  As we put the final pieces of the show together it’s good to remember how it all started.  How much has changed and how much has stayed the same.

Andrew Quick

Credit: Sodium Films

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