The women in Martin Margiela's show looked like they were posing amid a strange sort of fashion construction site. Each was wheeled out on her own trolley, slowly pushed along train tracks by a black-clad assistant. The first model, her body slicked with oil, was wearing a pair of white pants, with a cummerbund for a bra. One trouser leg was wider and longer than the other, trailing off into an unfinished hem. It had an industrial red-and-white-striped "caution" sticker taped up the side.
That was only the opening gambit in a collection that had begun in Margiela's head as an idea about "dissolving" the structure of clothing. Every outfit came with one side finished and the other melting off into raw fabric. A couple of dresses still had bolts of fabric attached. And then, to underline the theme, there was the extraordinary jewelrynecklaces and bracelets made of ice cubes, which, in the process of melting, marked the clothes with streaks of blue or magenta.
If all that sounds like a crazy intellectual essay on work in progress, don't be too put off. This was also a hot display of grittily glamorous womanhood, as exemplified by the strong-featured, grown-up yet languorous models Margiela had selected from street castings. As they shifted their slick bodies and shook their tousled hair, they radiated enough sexual heat to reduce any man to a pool of water at their feet. As for fashion content: In a season when the stock of pantsuits is steeply on the rise, Margiela's masterful tailoring is some of the most sophisticated around.