Collection: Martin Margiela
Martin designs in the manner of an avant-garde artist, rather than following fashions accustomed desire to please. Little information is known about Martin Margiela himself. He was born in Genk, Belgium, in 1957. Having graduated from Antwerp’s influential Royal Academy of Arts in 1979, Margiela started working as a freelance designer before becoming a design assistant under Jean Paul Gaultier. It was in 1988 that Martin formed his eponymous label, hosting his first show in the spring of 1989. Martin Margiela’s revolutionary designs were synonymous with avant-garde and deconstructivism movements in fashion. His label's philosophy shocked and questioned standards, questioned a system.
Martin’s work as a deconstructionist in fashion reaches further than just clothing. Martin rejected and broke the strict fashion zeitgeist of the ’90s. His design language was unique in making clothing out of unlikely materials such as plastic, ropes, ceramic, and often repurposed garments. In an era where fashion was all about conventional luxury Martin was a breath of rebellious fresh air. In the years he spent designing, Martin moved the fashion conversation more to the conceptual, he did things the hard way - a concept first.
Martin’s work wasn't traditionally perfect, he often let the consumers into the process and life of each garment or show. He created clothing that outwardly expresses process. Clothing that says to you “this is how I was made”. He hosted his shows far removed from his contemporaries. It wasn't the luxury and glamour of the Louvre in Paris. It was instead the harsh, the ugly, the crude reality of the outskirts of the city.
Rather than being rejected by traditional houses, Margiela’s iconoclastic methods were accepted in 1997 when Hermès hired him as creative director. His 7 years at the French label were often criticized as being too muted and not radical enough. For Hermès, Martin had a different design philosophy. It was instead centered around women and the desire for them to feel happy, comfortable, and unrestricted in their clothes.
Martin spent his career in anonymity. There are only a handful of pictures that exist showing his face. He’s quoted saying: “I always wanted to have my name linked with the product I created, not to the face I have”. When looking at Maison’s team photos, one chair always remained empty — the one meant for the designer himself.
Written By: Mateo Santarini