The Story Behind Maison Margiela’s Eerie New Horror Film

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Courtesy Maison Margiela

A Folk Horror Tale is a 70-minute film about the “power of time and nature,” featuring designs from the house’s 2021 Artisanal co-ed collection

“As a child, and even today, there’s nothing that thrills me more than to be outside and in the moonlight,“ says John Galliano, speaking in the opening scenes of his new film A Folk Horror Tale. The sinister feature – which premiered at a Champs Élysées cinema earlier this month – served as a replacement for Maison Margiela’s 2021 Artisanal co-ed show, with the creative director opting to reveal the collection on-screen as the film unfolded.

A Folk Horror Tale follows the story of a cursed seaside village: a land of creaking ghost ships, ominous blood moons and forbidding nature. It is a world where “malevolent seas” are swallowing the land, and where mysterious, toxic spores are tearing through houses and feasting on human flesh. According to Maison Margiela, the 70-minute horror is about the “power of time and nature”, exploring themes of “instinct, community and transformation”.

The film was written by Galliano, and directed by award-winning French filmmaker Olivier Dahan. The latter says he was contacted for the project over Skype “less than three months ago,” and has been working “24/7” to bring it to life in time for this season’s debut. “It’s surreal, somewhere between a dream and a nightmare,” Dahan says of the film. “There are three parts, all with the same characters: one part that takes place in the 18th century, one part that takes place 100 or so years later, and one part in the present day. Nonetheless, the whole aesthetic is broadly surrealist and symbolist. It has to be deciphered.”

And of course, the film’s narrative is woven into the new designs. The new collection sees Maison Margiela embrace a suitably dystopian, earthy aesthetic. The fabrics of the clothes appear faded, weather-beaten and “blanched by moonlight”, topped with oversized, insulated layers and reconstructed Dutch fisherman hats. As well as being battered by the natural elements, the designs are also imbued with references to ancient history – with visual nods to Arthurian legends, cross-generational folklore and Anglo-Saxon cults.

“This film replaces a runway show, so it’s not just about telling a story, you have to be able to see the collection, its details,” adds Dahan. “And that’s where the great advantage of the film lies. It’s almost as if the main characters were not the actors but the dresses themselves. There is no verbal dialogue, and even at the editing stage, the pieces will replace the faces ... Filming this requires a good director of photography and strong technical skills to shoot this haute collection respectfully. It’s really inspiring, it’s like sculptures, actually.”

You can watch A Folk Horror Tale in full above.