Maison Martin Margiela

On entering the the Hotel Salomon de Rothschild for the Maison Martin Margiela show, I was immediately struck by the glamour, beauty and airiness of the setting. Each guest was provided a perfect 360-degree view, no matter which room we were democratically stationed in. Having seen so many Margiela shows in far and remote locations—basements, tabletops of a wedding hall, the back of a bar on Isle de la Cite, the dark catacombs of a museum—this felt like a complete departure from the underground label it once was. Only the subtle tromp l’oeil of the parquet floor that morphed into woodgrain on seats and backdrop gave a nod to the brand and a clue to the nature of the collection to come.

The show opened with the soundtrack from Wim Wender’s 3D film Pina. An uplifting and amusing tribute to Pina Bausch, the talented choreographer who, although no longer with us, left her dazzling and provocative ideas to the world of dance and her company to carry forward. Here too, for different reasons, was a charming collection of clothes and a wonderful tribute by le Maison to the designer who has departed his own house and company.

In past seasons, this task was a difficult undertaking that at times felt a little over-wrought with too much concept and trickery, and not a whole lot to wear. But this season, it was as if they had shrugged off the heavy load and performed as lightly and elegantly as dancers who feel the music rather than think it.

There was still evidence of wit, for example as a double-breasted coat with the sleeves tucked into front pockets that was actually a cape, made visible when we saw the models’ bare arms folded casually behind her. And deconstruction, pretty much invented by Margiela, came in the form of vintage kimonos that were reconstructed into wonderful long skirts and cutaway evening dresses in faded hues. Long pleated skirts were not just split to reveal leg and thigh, but were left long one one side and cropped short on the other, as short as a miniskirt. There were also beautifully constructed tuxedos, a hybrid tunic suit over trousers, a 3-piece corduroy suit and some spectacular knits, especially super-high funnel-necked ones, that hid most of the models’ faces.

For years women collected and built wardrobes of Margiela clothes that were easily intermixed with seasons before and after. I think that they would feel comfortable mixing a few pieces from this collection with the originals. It’s very tromp l’oeil, after all. 

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