Couture is supposed to be beautiful, decadent and otherworldly in its magnificence – and that's why Maison Martin Margiela's masks didn't work, says Sara McCorquodale.
You've got a handful of the most beautiful women in the world and you're at Paris Couture Week. What do you do? Make them wear masks of course! Well, if you're Maison Martin Margiela that is.
Now I understand the reasoning behind this – in theory, it should make everyone look at the clothes, not the person modelling them. But the trouble is, masks weird people out. Unless you're so fashion that it doesn't come across as odd at all, because you too are in fact wearing a mask.
When I look at this collection, all I can think is, who are these women? And do they wear make-up under their masks? What about their hair – done or not done?
Try as I might to focus on the frankly extraordinarily cool dresses, I can't. Which is why I'm going to call this one on the Margiela collection: it's a gimmick too far. It works against, rather than for the designer. If it wasn't for the masks, I'd be fawning all over him, but instead I'm irritated he's hidden a bunch of gorgeous girls' faces. They're super pretty! They deserve to be admired! It's like putting a towel over Jessica Chastain's head for the Oscars.
None of this is helped by the design house's chief celebrity endorser, of course. Yes, Kanye West is a huge fan and turned up to the show looking like a festive burglar in a nice red balaclava. Don't look at my face! I'M NOT ATTENTION-SEEKING!
But apart from the Kanye element, people make fashion real – it doesn't happen by itself. Without Cara Delevingne's sweetly serious stare would that Chanel dress have been so wonderful? Not quite. Interesting, Margiela's choice to mask his models may be. But beautiful? No.