The hugely anticipated runway return of British designer John Galliano, now creative director of Paris-based fashion house Maison Martin Margiela, took place this week in London.

The French brand, founded by a Belgian, owned by an Italian (Diesel boss Renzo Rosso is the man pulling the purse-strings) and now led by a British designer, chose to stage its off-schedule, “artisanal” haute couture collection on the final day of the London menswear shows in the UK capital. How’s that for postmodern, post-national fashion?

Despite all the hype, the show was about one thing and one thing only: the clothes. The austere, silver-tiled space held just one line of chairs each side of the runway (everyone at this select crowd was an official ‘front rower’), and there were none of the theatrics associated with Galliano’s shows at Christian Dior.

Instead the dresses did the talking. As if to prove it, some even had anthropomorphic faces (inspired by the work of Giuseppe Arcimboldo), while the models held their hands in the gowns’ clear plastic pockets. The sweet spot of the collection was found in the balance of Margiela’s traditional assembled materials (animal prints, denims and silks) mixed with Galliano’s skill for draping materials around the body. Meanwhile, makeup looks by Pat McGrath varied from elaborate dark eyes, to facial appliqué — worked with pearls and metallics.

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There was also the return of the Margiela couture mask (a notable house motif for the past few years) for the final all-red bridal look, but this time it came with a wild golden Art Brut face, and a queen’s crown. It was a striking end to proceedings.

Fellow designers Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Nicola Formachetti and Christopher Bailey all sat front row, according to Women’s Wear Daily, and fashion queen and fervent Galliano supporter Anna Wintour was also in attendance, as was super model Kate Moss.

“Shivers. You know when you get the shivers down your legs? I had shivers up and down my legs,” Moss told WWD after the show.