Martin Margiela: The Silent Designer with The Loudest Influence. Retrospective Exhibition in Paris Portrays Wonders of the Belgian Designer.

Martin Margiela is the man whose silence and invisibility speaks a thousand words. The invisible man of fashion has recently showcased his years of influence and presence in the industry through an exhibition in Palais Galliera entitled Margiela/Galliera, 1989-2009. This is the first retrospective of Margiela’s 20-year journey, which humbly began in Paris. The showcase became a platform to Margiela’s declarations presented in his artistic work and direction. We discover his endless and immense exploration for tailoring and garments. But it was also Margiela’s legacy as a forefather in fashion that changed the game in fashion as well as implemented visionary thinking for the industry.

Martin Margiela: The Silent Designer with The Loudest Influence

Left page, Martin Margiela, wigs and hairpieces jacket, Fall-winter 2008-2009 (“Artisanal” collection), then Spring-summer 2009, Synthetic blond hair, ivory taffeta. Right page, Martin Margiela, top made of upside down wigs, Fall-winter 2005-2006, Synthetic hair, putty colored leather. Photo © Julien Vidal / Galliera / Roger-Viollet

Martin Margiela is a graduate in Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp in 1980 and was Jean Paul Gaultier’s assistant between 1984 and 1987. Throughout his career, Martin Margiela has always been ahead of his time. He discovered more to what fashion could and should be, even if it takes becoming an eccentric and counter-cultured individual. Margiela’s first show was held in October 23, 1988 in a café-theatre in Marais featuring a cheap white cloth runway, where models leave sticky red-paint Tabi boot prints behind them. And then it grew into the abandoned car park, the dilapidated supermarket and the clandestine concepts of fashion shows that Margiela began to explore and exercise. As a designer and an artist, he took the scene to places that were never tapped.

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The exhibition is a great platform for cradling designers and young enthusiasts to really gain insights and details to the life and journey of Margiela as a designer. It is Margiela’s passion for clothes and clothing that make him a great designers and artist and his work exhilarating and exciting. Throughout the exhibition, we get to see countless silhouettes, documentary and videos as to why Margiela did fashion the way he did and how his influences have reverberated since throughout the fashion industry. He invented the exaggerated silhouettes from his Fall Winter 2000 collection. Margiela also introduced repurposing and recycling, a concept long before adapted by most designers and labels in the present. He took such concept for his Spring Summer 1991 collection, dying vintage ball gowns and styled them over jeans. Not long after, the designer also recycled vintage headscarves as clothes from his Spring Summer 1992 collection and also transformed old fur coats into models’ wigs for his Fall Winter 1997 collection.

Martin Margiela: The Silent Designer with The Loudest Influence

Garments and headpieces from Fall 1997. Photo © Pierre Antoine

Martin Margiela has never been afraid of pushing boundaries and challenging the conventions, especially when everyone else doubts to see concepts and experience through his lens. The designer was the first to introduce the very first see-now-buy-now season, putting models in windows of boutiques around the world. Such an early start made opens a new outlook on opportunity among fashion labels. Margiela made such a calculated prediction that retail strategy is imminent and will one day become a tapped opportunity.

Martin Margiela sold his business in 2008 making this the only time the house was inundated by the press and editors. His began and ended his short appearance with the short statement, “twenty years, forty shows, hundreds of garments, what’s left?” John Galliano leads the label now retitled Maison Margiela and it is up to him now to continue on the legacy and implement the creative vision under the shadows of Margiela’s steps.

The exhibition opens up new conversations and it’s a great breath of fresh air for the younger generations to be immersed in and be inspired. There are many elements and concepts we have seen and it’s safe to say Margiela has trail blazed his way towards the industry, making such relevant influence for the many designers in the industry. His silhouettes and distressed clothing has become themes revisited by many designers, imbuing such a strong character and voice up to this day. Visitors can really feel Margiela’s exhibition breathe about life as it did not merely highlight looking good in garments but it was all about making things that work and making things that are powerful and influential.

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You can feel his exhibition breathe so much about life and about concepts and it was not about just looking good in the garment but it was all about making things that work.

Margiela Galliera remains open through July 15, 2018. The exhibition is part of the “Saison Margiella 2009 a Paris” along with “Margiela les annees Hermes” at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs from March 22 to September 2, 2018.