Martin Margiela, the ‘Invisible Man’ of fashion, has a retrospective spanning his 10 years at the helm of his eponymous label opening at the Palais Galliera, Paris this month. Spanning his career from spring/summer 1989 to spring/summer 2009 the exhibition is the first retrospective from the Belgian Designer, and despite his very low key lifestyle, Margiela is credited as Artistic Director for the exhibition as well as writing the captions for the looks and overseeing the wigs and make up on each mannequin.
Graduating from the infamous Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, where he studied alongside the remaining ‘Antwerp Six’, Martin began with a tenure at Jean Paul Gaultier as his assistant, Gaultier claiming he was by far the best assistant he had ever had and pushed him to start his own line. In 1989 Martin produced his first collection and, along side the other Antwerp Six, continued the legacy of Deconstructionism started in fashion by the japanese designers, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçon & Yoji Yammamoto amongst others.
Seen in the context of our present obsession with 24-hour connectivity and accessibility, Margiela’s work feels refreshingly subversive. Throughout his career he did not give interviews. His label on his clothing was just a plain white label stitched to the clothing, the only visible presence being the two stitches of cotton from the outside of the garment. In terms of his designs, he was years ahead of his time, and this new retrospective provides an opportunity to see the work of this extraordinary intellectual, who was every inch a designer’s designer – Demna Gvasalia, of Balenciaga and Vetements, and Phoebe Philo are both self-confessed fans. It is a testament to his legacy that after Martin Margiela left his label as head designer both Raf Simons & Haider Ackermann both turned down the roll.
The exhibition contains over 130 silhouettes, house archives and special installations and offers an unprecedented look at one of the most influential designers of the 20th century.
Palais Galliera Muséede la Mode de la Ville de Paris. 10, Avenue Pierre ler de Serbie 75116 Paris. March 3rd to July 15th Palais Galliera