Martin Margiela Honored: Must See Fashion Exhibits in Paris
Known for his innovative, deconstructed, conceptual, and minimal designs and elusive persona, the Belgian fashion designer Martin Margiela is being honored this year with two must-see fashion exhibits in his hometown of Paris. Co-founder of Maison Margiela and former artistic director of Hermès, Martin Margiela’s avant-garde creations are both masculine and feminine and with there oversized proportions, exposed hems, visible stitches, recycled materials, monochrome fabrics, logo-less labels, unlike any other.
If you love fashion as much as we do and are in the city of lights for Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week or for any other reason this summer, we highly recommend finding time to visit “Margiela/Galliera” at Palais Galliera (only through July 15th) and “Margiela : les années Hermès” at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (through Sept. 2nd).
Following in the footsteps of the eccentric and ground-breaking designs of Japanese avant-gardists such as Rei Kawakubo, during the 1980s Marin Margiela and the famous Antwerp Six revolted against the luxury fashion world with oversized and deconstructed designs, concepts which became statements of Margiela’s style.
Maison Martin Margiela, Autumn/Winter 1991-1992. Source: Photo by Marina Faust via Musée des Arts Décoratifs
Between 1985 and 1987 Margiela worked for Jean Paul Gaultier and then in 1988 he co-founded his Paris-based fashion house Maison Margiela with Jenny Meirens. Margiela quickly earned a reputation as secretive refusing to be photographed, hiding back-stage at shows, declining interviews and insisting the media only communicate with him via fax.
Outfits by Martin Margiela from Fall 1992 at Palais Galleria Installation. Source: Photo by Pierre Antoin via Palais Galleria.
During the 1990s Maison Margiela launched several collections. In 1997, Margiela began identifying each of his designs with a unique classification system which consisted of a white label with a circled number between 0 and 23, corresponding to the item’s collection. If the collection was handmade the 0 was circled, 6 was for womenswear, 10 for menswear, 22 for shoes and 13 for accessories.
Martin Margiela for Hermès, Autumn/Winter 2002-2003, Les Gestuelles. Source: Photo by Marina Faust via Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
In 1998 Margiela became the artistic director at Hermès, a position which he held until 2003. This collaboration helped propel Maison Margiela to the global spotlight and within six years the label grew immensely and began opening boutiques in all the world’s fashion capitals.
Maison Martin Margiela, Spring/Summer 2009. Source: Photo by Etienne Tordoir via Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
A look by Martin Magiela from Spring 2001 on Exhibit at Palais Galleria. Source: Photo Pierre Antoin via Palais Galleria.
Maison Margiela was purchased by the founder of Diesel, Renzo Rosso in 2003, beginning Margiela’s separation from his label. In 2009 his departure was made official and instead of being replaced with a new artistic director the house’s collections began to be created by a secret team of designers. In 2014, British couturier John Galliano was appointed the house’s official creative director.
Maison Martin Margiela, Autumn/Winter 1996-1997. Source: Photo by Anders Edstrom via Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
In a recent article by The New York Times, Martin Margiela is described as “one of the great godfathers of conceptual fashion as we know it today” and “alternately adored, reviled, overlooked and imitated in his own day.” Regardless of what you think of Margiela’s designs, his influence on the world of fashion is undeniable and Paris’ dedicated exhibitions at Palais Galliera and Musée des Arts Décoratifs are must-see tributes to his creative genius.
Margiela/Galliera, through July 15, 2018, Palais Galliera
Margiela : les années Hermès, through September 2, 2018, Musée des Arts Décoratifs
For more design loving things to do in Paris be sure to check out our Design Lover’s Guide to Paris!