John Galliano and Tomo Koizumi Remix Each Other’s Work at Vogue’s Forces of Fashion

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Upcycling, reusing, and reimagining existing garments will be the underpinning of the 2020s fashion revolution. And who knows about the importance of good underpinnings than two couturiers? In a special project for Vogue’s Forces of Fashion summit, John Galliano and Tomo Koizumi traded two singular pieces, with the free range to cut, splice, and remake each other’s work. 

In Paris, John Galliano and his Maison Margiela Artisanal team anxiously awaited the arrival of a Tomo Koizumi dress. “It was decided we would have Look 4, which is a wedding dress, and we would send Rihanna’s tulle from the Met 2018 with carte blanche,” Galliano explains to his atelier. Six-thousand miles away in his own Tokyo studio, Koizumi unboxes Galliano’s toile, marveling at the craftsmanship and weight of what is usually an ephemeral—and sometimes scrapped—garment. “I was happy and honored to touch the material, texture, and design of the toile,” Koizumi says in his native Japanese. 

Without hesitation, the designers and their teams got to work thinking about how to remix the white pieces. At Margiela, Galliano unpicks the ruffles to make bundles of organza that will then be knitted into an oversized sweater, grounded in the notion that “these memories, these generational memories could be worn.” The idea is similar to what Galliano at Margiela offered fans and followers in the depths of the pandemic’s DIY phase: a free pattern for how to upcycle shirts into a roomy knit. 

Koizumi decides to try out a new process for Galliano’s toile: “I wanted to paint the toile as a canvas by using a technique which was developed for my next collection: ruffle paint technique.… I was inspired by Margiela’s past archive designs to create a free and fun atmosphere and I wanted to give it a craftier feel.” 

Over the course of weeks, the teams fastidiously stitched, knit, and painted their pieces. Galliano estimates that the total time to redo Koizumi’s work at about 90 hours. Yet despite the labor and ingenuity that went into each piece, the final, breathtaking results look nothing short of effortless.