Radical conceptual designer Martin Margiela originally founded in 1988, the designer soon set himself at the head of the Belgian fashion avant-garde.
Despite being highly renowned in the fashion industry, Margiela remains somehow elusive to the public eye, he has never appeared on the runway and he has hardly ever been photographed. The designer embodied in this way the atelier’s rule of anonymity and collective craftsmanship.
Transformation and deconstruction are always the core values of the label. Distressed materials, de-contextualised treatments, modern tailoring and suits, clever jewelry, minimalist leather bags and continuous interpretations of its emblematic Replica sneakers are always recurring in Maison Martin Margiela’s intellectual blend of luxury and conceptualism.
However for the AW16 the minimalistic Margiela’s days seems to be over under the direction of John Galliano, pirate belts, Bakelite jewellery, cellophane sweaters and mismatched shoes.
Thin knits, military inspired outerwear, black suiting and oversized pieces constitute the big part of the collection, animated by Margiela’s flourishes.
Galliano described his latest “Artisan Collection” as “raw-core”: unfinished hems, oversized, undersized, distress, deconstruction and anti-luxury fabrics, as described in the original Margiela’s conception; but it also Galliano’s distinctive features are blended in the collection: historicism, surrealism and glamour.
The clashing, though balanced coexistence of different, often divergent worlds has always been one of the designer’s distinctive features; his strength is creating beauty from contrasting environments, the grand and the low, raw and polished.
Apart from launching his self named fashion house, Margiela's reputable resume has also included Assistant Designer to Jean Paul Gaultier and Creative Director of the Hermès women's line. Although, highly regarded in the fashion industry, Margiela remains somewhat elusive to the public eye, having hardly ever been photographed, never appeared on the runway during his shows or desired to be under the scope of the media's attention. It is thought that this is in an effort to let his designs speak for themselves and to show that the work is the result of a collaboration of his entire team, and not just himself alone.
"Martin was someone who changed the rules in the fashion industry," Renzo Rosso explained when appointing provocative persona and high profile design John Gallinao as the new Creative Director of Margiela's haute couture and women's RTW. Changing the brand name to Maison Margiela, with John, the spectacle comes first. Galliano's flamboyance conflicting with Margiela's abstraction, it didn't escape anyone's dream AW15 show schedule, so oversubscribed, Editor-in-chief Carine Roitfeld was seen huddled at the back. The debut collection cast shadows over the Christian Dior show in Paris which Raf Simons showcased on the same day, the French house Galliano spent 15 years as former Creative Director. With an A-list industry following, from Anna Wintour to Kate Moss, there's no surprise Margiela has returned to being the most sought after designer label and new street style star.
Like the Japanese avantgardist creator of the Comme Des Garcons label, Rei Kawakubo, Margiela's eccentric and innovative creations have made him a true leader of contemporary style. Even though the creative reins of his fashion house have now been handed to an in-house design team, the essence of the ground breaking designer is still very much present in his collections.
With his more couture pieces, revolution against the norms of the luxurious fashion world was a key component. His collections have included garments of oversized proportions such as long arms, linings, seems and deconstructed effect of hems on the outside; which he is so well known for. In the past, some of Margiela's couture garments have been fashioned from the most unexpected of materials such as old wigs, canvases and silk scarves.
Renowned photographer Sam Taylor-Johnson, formerly Sam Taylor-Wood, commissioned to photograph the haute couture and high street collaboration with H&M, described her experience working with the fashion powerhouse as 'anarchic' and something which 'creatively became a crazy, fun product'.
The fashion house also has an A-List following of celebrities, with the likes of Rihanna, Jay Z, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Victoria Beckham all having been spotted wearing Margiela.