Martin Margiela – The Elusive Designer’s Claim To Avant-Garde Fame

words Alexa Wang

Martin Margiela designer

Martin Margiela, the founder of the Maison Martin Margiela brand is quite the mysterious figure in the fashion world. The designer studied fashion design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and did his apprenticeship under Jean-Paul Gaultier only to become one of the few designers of the early 2000s that was called a deconstructivist

His work took into consideration all the aspects of fashion in order to create alternatives to already existing designs and items. Moreover, he is well-known for its desire to reveal the production process behind each item (instead of concealing it) and his defiance of classic cut lines and fashion rules. 

As his fame grew, Margiela became more interested in using unconventional materials, asymmetric draping and tailoring, and distressed treatments in order to create beauty outside the standards of the fashion industry. He also extended his reach into the world of footwear, creating astonishing collections that mesmerize and attract through bold imperfections. 

Repurposing the Old

In the world Margiela created, old fashion items could be repurposed into new and hip items without too much effort. For instance, his early collections (between 1988 and 1991) included unconventional materials such as shards from broken plates worked into shirts or tee-shirts made from plastic shopping bags literally taped together with brown cellophane tape. There is also one collection where he took second hand ball gowns from the 1950s and repurposed them into waistcoats. 

The examples could go on, so it’s easy to understand why he was labeled as a deconstructivist. 

Starting with 1997, the designer was hired as the in-house designer of Hermes, so he was able to continue his work and refined his skills under the guidance of one of the most luxurious fashion houses in the world.

This influence is highly visible in his most recent works, like this collection of boots from Maison Margiela. Everything is luxurious, simple, and refined, without any unnecessary accessories or decorations.  

The Elusive Designer 

Another thing that’s fascinating about Martin Margiela is his elusiveness when it comes to interviews and public appearances. He is the kind of designer who prefers to let his creations do the talking and avoids showing up in public for as much as possible. 

As a result, the media took his behavior and ran with it, creating a personality myth which incentivised the public’s curiosity for the designer and his work. Still, his behavior didn’t change, showing his so-called shyness is authentic and not a publicity stunt. 

Nowadays, after 12 years out of the public eye and the fashion industry, the designer decided to make a comeback; but as an artist. His exhibits are going to be available starting April 15th at the Lafayette Anticipations gallery in Paris, and will include sculptures, photographs, and installations that were never made available to the public.

This goes to show that his basic drive is as an artist and not just a fashion designer. Therefore, his work in fashion can also be considered tiny pieces of art that can be displayed in public using our body as the display case. 

Wrap Up

Overall, Martin Margiela is the kind of person who likes to bring the so-called odd design in the mainstream. But most of all, he is an artist who understands the power of creative imagination and the true meaning behind luxury

As a true artist, he is not fond of the capitalist system that has the fashion industry producing items based on a seasonal pattern. Therefore, Martin Margiela’s journey as a fashion designer may be over. Still, while he may be out of the world of fashion, people will still be blessed by his genius as an artist.


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