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To Jenny Meirens and Jean-Louis Dumas

Martin Margiela

MARGIELA THE HERMÈS YEARS


To Jenny Meirens and Jean-Louis Dumas

Martin Margiela

MARGIELA THE HERMÈS YEARS


Preface 7 9

Suzy Menkes Kaat Debo

Dedication 17

Marie-Claude Gallien

Essays 23 107 181 229

Kaat Debo Vincent Wierink Rebecca Arnold Sarah Mower

Margiela, The Hermès years The Words of a Wardrobe Luxury, Luxe, Luxus. Redefining fashion for the new millennium A View from the Front Row

Interviews 65 83 95 96 140 144 148 161 168 174 195 196 201 203 208 212 223 243

Sandrine Dumas Pierre-Alexis Dumas Jenny Meirens Olivier Zahm Véronique Nichanian Linda Loppa Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski Patrick Scallon Sophie Pay May Vervoordt Joanna Van Mulder Sibylle de Saint Phalle Kanako Koga Kate Betts Marina Faust Akiko Fukai Christian Blanckaert Stéphane Wargnier


Preface 7 9

Suzy Menkes Kaat Debo

Dedication 17

Marie-Claude Gallien

Essays 23 107 181 229

Kaat Debo Vincent Wierink Rebecca Arnold Sarah Mower

Margiela, The Hermès years The Words of a Wardrobe Luxury, Luxe, Luxus. Redefining fashion for the new millennium A View from the Front Row

Interviews 65 83 95 96 140 144 148 161 168 174 195 196 201 203 208 212 223 243

Sandrine Dumas Pierre-Alexis Dumas Jenny Meirens Olivier Zahm Véronique Nichanian Linda Loppa Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski Patrick Scallon Sophie Pay May Vervoordt Joanna Van Mulder Sibylle de Saint Phalle Kanako Koga Kate Betts Marina Faust Akiko Fukai Christian Blanckaert Stéphane Wargnier


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Preface

SUZY MENKES

The idea of deconstruction as an art form was a bold gesture at the end of the 1980s. Fashion was then at its most affluent and extravagant – bold, brash and shouting to be noticed. Only a still small voice of calm was speaking a different language. Instead of excess, there was distressed cloth. In the face of exaggeration was becalmed elegance. The orgy of opulence was here replaced by clothes that were deliberately deconstructed with visible darts, frayed hems and shoes with split toes. Martin Margiela changed the course of fashion – but subtly, subversively. Even more elusive and invisible than Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, Margiela rejected the catwalk, the supermodels and the idea of using his own persona to head up his brand. His studio was painted white from ceiling to floor and his staff wore white coats, as if they were workers in a fashion laboratory. After graduating from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Arts in 1980, Martin Margiela spent his formative years with Jean Paul Gaultier, from 1984 to 1987. Then, in 1988, he and Jenny Meirens established Maison Martin Margiela, built on loose threads and labelled with a square of large white stitches. It was the maverick side of this designer that gave him fashion status. His collection featured clothes wrapped in dry-cleaner plastic, shown on rough land on the outskirts of Paris; the invitation was scribbled on the outside of an envelope; wigs were used like strands of thread; and clothes were presented in two sections, one black, the other white. Margiela’s skill was to make the ordinary extraordinary. And the top note came with his unexpected collaboration with Hermès, from 1997 to 2003. This was fashion’s archradical, facing off the noble French house. Hospital-coat white meets sunset orange. Layers of impeccable tailoring built on the V-shaped vareuse gave the collaboration a timeless elegance. Hand-sewn buttons, with threads stitched into an ‘H’ for Hermès, showed their robust attention to detail. Even after 18 years hanging in storage, the quality of the finest leather, cashmere and cloth remains exceptional. The exhibition put together by Kaat Debo at MoMu, the Fashion Museum in Antwerp, is a fashion memory bank. Realized before the age of the Internet, smart phones or instant images on Instagram, Margiela’s exceptional application of modern elegance might well have been lost. This exhibition reveals and unfurls his innate classicism – with a maverick twist.

International Vogue Editor

HERMÈS, Autumn-Winter 2003-04, kimono sleeve in double-faced cashmere.

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Preface

SUZY MENKES

The idea of deconstruction as an art form was a bold gesture at the end of the 1980s. Fashion was then at its most affluent and extravagant – bold, brash and shouting to be noticed. Only a still small voice of calm was speaking a different language. Instead of excess, there was distressed cloth. In the face of exaggeration was becalmed elegance. The orgy of opulence was here replaced by clothes that were deliberately deconstructed with visible darts, frayed hems and shoes with split toes. Martin Margiela changed the course of fashion – but subtly, subversively. Even more elusive and invisible than Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, Margiela rejected the catwalk, the supermodels and the idea of using his own persona to head up his brand. His studio was painted white from ceiling to floor and his staff wore white coats, as if they were workers in a fashion laboratory. After graduating from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Arts in 1980, Martin Margiela spent his formative years with Jean Paul Gaultier, from 1984 to 1987. Then, in 1988, he and Jenny Meirens established Maison Martin Margiela, built on loose threads and labelled with a square of large white stitches. It was the maverick side of this designer that gave him fashion status. His collection featured clothes wrapped in dry-cleaner plastic, shown on rough land on the outskirts of Paris; the invitation was scribbled on the outside of an envelope; wigs were used like strands of thread; and clothes were presented in two sections, one black, the other white. Margiela’s skill was to make the ordinary extraordinary. And the top note came with his unexpected collaboration with Hermès, from 1997 to 2003. This was fashion’s archradical, facing off the noble French house. Hospital-coat white meets sunset orange. Layers of impeccable tailoring built on the V-shaped vareuse gave the collaboration a timeless elegance. Hand-sewn buttons, with threads stitched into an ‘H’ for Hermès, showed their robust attention to detail. Even after 18 years hanging in storage, the quality of the finest leather, cashmere and cloth remains exceptional. The exhibition put together by Kaat Debo at MoMu, the Fashion Museum in Antwerp, is a fashion memory bank. Realized before the age of the Internet, smart phones or instant images on Instagram, Margiela’s exceptional application of modern elegance might well have been lost. This exhibition reveals and unfurls his innate classicism – with a maverick twist.

International Vogue Editor

HERMÈS, Autumn-Winter 2003-04, kimono sleeve in double-faced cashmere.

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MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA, Spring-Summer 1989, fitted jacket with narrow shoulder line and cigarette shoulder pads from the first collection by Maison Martin Margiela.

HERMĂˆS, Autumn-Winter 1998-99, silhouette from the first collection by Martin Margiela for Hermès. Detachable fleece in camel hair, worn as a coat or a cape, vareuse jacket in cashmere with Shetland look, seamless cashmere sweater, Clochette keyholder in leather worn as a necklace.

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MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA, Spring-Summer 1989, fitted jacket with narrow shoulder line and cigarette shoulder pads from the first collection by Maison Martin Margiela.

HERMĂˆS, Autumn-Winter 1998-99, silhouette from the first collection by Martin Margiela for Hermès. Detachable fleece in camel hair, worn as a coat or a cape, vareuse jacket in cashmere with Shetland look, seamless cashmere sweater, Clochette keyholder in leather worn as a necklace.

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HERMÈS, Spring-Summer 1999, show at the

Hermès store at Rue du Faubourg SaintHonoré in Paris. Vareuse shirt in poplin, T-shirt in silk jersey, wool trousers with leather belt, Quick sneakers (by Pierre Hardy).

MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA, Spring-Summer 2009, oversized cotton shirts, tied at the back, on bodysuits with shoulder pads, XXXL sandals. p20-21 Rebecca Mead, ‘The Crazy Professor’,

The New Yorker, 30 March 1998.

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HERMÈS, Spring-Summer 1999, show at the

Hermès store at Rue du Faubourg SaintHonoré in Paris. Vareuse shirt in poplin, T-shirt in silk jersey, wool trousers with leather belt, Quick sneakers (by Pierre Hardy).

MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA, Spring-Summer 2009, oversized cotton shirts, tied at the back, on bodysuits with shoulder pads, XXXL sandals. p20-21 Rebecca Mead, ‘The Crazy Professor’,

The New Yorker, 30 March 1998.

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MARGIELA, THE HERMÈS YEARS KAAT DEBO

In a brief press release on 28 April 1997, the house of Hermès announced the appointment of Martin Margiela as their new creative director for women’s ready-to-wear. Margiela’s arrival at Hermès followed a succession of appointments of foreign designers at renowned European fashion houses. In the mid-1990s, it was the American designer Tom Ford who was no doubt the most important protagonist in this evolution, and it breathed new life back into traditional fashion houses. The strategy depended primarily on marketing well-known faces and top models, as well as the sale of accessories. Tom Ford, appointed creative director at Gucci in 1994, had well understood that a new, well-to-do generation in the major metropolises was in search of exclusive products to show off their newly-won status and fortune. Ford’s introduction of the Jackie handbag in 1999, a re-release of Gucci’s Jackie O handbag from the 1960s, heralded the decade of the It Bag. Gucci sold more than a million copies. Moreover, the prominent use of the Gucci initials on an unending stream of accessories, promoted by sexually-tinted and often provocative advertising campaigns, from the hand of such stylists and photographers as Carine Roitfeld or Mario Testino, led to an especially lucrative mania for brand logos. In 1996, John Galliano was hired by

HERMÈS, Autumn-Winter 1998-99, high-neck pullover in cashmere with long gloves in nubuck, trousers in deerskin.

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22

MARGIELA, THE HERMÈS YEARS KAAT DEBO

In a brief press release on 28 April 1997, the house of Hermès announced the appointment of Martin Margiela as their new creative director for women’s ready-to-wear. Margiela’s arrival at Hermès followed a succession of appointments of foreign designers at renowned European fashion houses. In the mid-1990s, it was the American designer Tom Ford who was no doubt the most important protagonist in this evolution, and it breathed new life back into traditional fashion houses. The strategy depended primarily on marketing well-known faces and top models, as well as the sale of accessories. Tom Ford, appointed creative director at Gucci in 1994, had well understood that a new, well-to-do generation in the major metropolises was in search of exclusive products to show off their newly-won status and fortune. Ford’s introduction of the Jackie handbag in 1999, a re-release of Gucci’s Jackie O handbag from the 1960s, heralded the decade of the It Bag. Gucci sold more than a million copies. Moreover, the prominent use of the Gucci initials on an unending stream of accessories, promoted by sexually-tinted and often provocative advertising campaigns, from the hand of such stylists and photographers as Carine Roitfeld or Mario Testino, led to an especially lucrative mania for brand logos. In 1996, John Galliano was hired by

HERMÈS, Autumn-Winter 1998-99, high-neck pullover in cashmere with long gloves in nubuck, trousers in deerskin.

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108

At Hermès, before Martin’s arrival, the tradition was that each article of clothing or accessory be baptized with a name of its own. For Martin, who is Flemish, putting his fashion ‘into words’ was a chore, as was following a tradition that did not speak to him. From now on, Studio Director Marie-Claude Gallien, his closest collaborator at Hermès, and I, from the outside, would help him establish a vocabulary that was in line with his vision. / To begin, colours retreated, making way for tones: chalk, mastic, twine, taupe, alabaster, bronze, stone and slate, up to and including burnt black. Recurrent themes would respond to these deliberate, ‘neutral’ tones, adapting to the course of the seasons.

The porté par deux refers to ensembles in which two garments, often identical, are worn one over the other, and are made of widely varied materials, such as flannel in supple cashmere, or knit in baby cashmere, to even reversible goat fur. These ensembles increased the options for the wearer’s gestures, and moreover introduced a ‘variable geometry’ innovative yet elegant, but precious against capricious weather. The twinset was succeeded by the triple-set: three fine layers of knitted cashmere/ silk. A sleeveless pullover, a tunic with plunging V-neck and a cardigan without buttons allow – and invite – a subtle interplay with the way it is worn.

HERMÈS, Autumn-Winter 1999-00, two

identical cashmere coats ‘portés par deux’, sleeveless high-neck pullover and gloves in cashmere.

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HERMÈS, Autumn-Winter 1999-00, sleeveless pullover in cashmere and silk and leather necklace with a Clochette keyholder, an enlargement of the keyholder from the Kelly handbag.


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At Hermès, before Martin’s arrival, the tradition was that each article of clothing or accessory be baptized with a name of its own. For Martin, who is Flemish, putting his fashion ‘into words’ was a chore, as was following a tradition that did not speak to him. From now on, Studio Director Marie-Claude Gallien, his closest collaborator at Hermès, and I, from the outside, would help him establish a vocabulary that was in line with his vision. / To begin, colours retreated, making way for tones: chalk, mastic, twine, taupe, alabaster, bronze, stone and slate, up to and including burnt black. Recurrent themes would respond to these deliberate, ‘neutral’ tones, adapting to the course of the seasons.

The porté par deux refers to ensembles in which two garments, often identical, are worn one over the other, and are made of widely varied materials, such as flannel in supple cashmere, or knit in baby cashmere, to even reversible goat fur. These ensembles increased the options for the wearer’s gestures, and moreover introduced a ‘variable geometry’ innovative yet elegant, but precious against capricious weather. The twinset was succeeded by the triple-set: three fine layers of knitted cashmere/ silk. A sleeveless pullover, a tunic with plunging V-neck and a cardigan without buttons allow – and invite – a subtle interplay with the way it is worn.

HERMÈS, Autumn-Winter 1999-00, two

identical cashmere coats ‘portés par deux’, sleeveless high-neck pullover and gloves in cashmere.

109

HERMÈS, Autumn-Winter 1999-00, sleeveless pullover in cashmere and silk and leather necklace with a Clochette keyholder, an enlargement of the keyholder from the Kelly handbag.


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MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA, Spring-Summer 1996, veil, top and skirt in silk with black-and-white photographic trompe l’oeil prints of vintage garments, heeled soles attached to the feet with transparent tape. MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA, Spring-Summer 1996, backstage at the show of the trompe l’oeil collection. p172-173 MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA,

Spring-Summer 1996, the trompe-l’oeil collection with photographic prints of a vintage wardrobe at the showroom on Passage Ruelle in Paris. Dry cleaning hangers emphasize the absence of tailoring in these garments.

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MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA, Spring-Summer 1996, veil, top and skirt in silk with black-and-white photographic trompe l’oeil prints of vintage garments, heeled soles attached to the feet with transparent tape. MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA, Spring-Summer 1996, backstage at the show of the trompe l’oeil collection. p172-173 MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA,

Spring-Summer 1996, the trompe-l’oeil collection with photographic prints of a vintage wardrobe at the showroom on Passage Ruelle in Paris. Dry cleaning hangers emphasize the absence of tailoring in these garments.

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Margiela the hermes years  
Margiela the hermes years