Our wig coat is having a very bad hair day with the confirmation that Martin Margiela has indeed left the building. While we’ve known it to be true for at least nine months, with rumors brewing as far back as Diesel’s majority-stake acquisition in 2002, the label’s CEO finally announced it in today’s WWD. No word on the actual reason for the departure (except that it’s “personal”), but it doesn’t take Sherlock to point to the house’s rapid expansion. Growing pains (a home line), loss of control (a fragrance with L’Oreal) and fatigue most likely spooked the lab-coated master.
And so it seems the 52-year-old is going back to his original calling, putting down the shears and picking up the paintbrush. Like Helmut Lang before him, it seems Margiela is turning to the refuge of art and away from the base commercialism of fashion (although, fresh from Art Basel, we can’t distinguish the two). It makes perfect sense for a designer who’s trademark has always been a Duchampian wit and whimsy.
Also announced today—and this is big—is that a successor will not be named. The house will be left in the hands of the maison, which is how Margiela always explained his work anyway. What the future holds remains unclear, but it is certainly the passing of an era, the retirement of one of the greats, leaving an emptiness in our hearts. We’re at least hoping for a retrospective soon, where we can peruse his painterly meditations on days gone by—we’d even settle for a line with Uniqlo.