Though it’s been more than eight years since Martin Margiela retreated from the fashion world, he remains one of its most influential and iconoclastic figures, and one of its most elusive. While he’s primarily known for his designs for his own eponymous label, he also worked as artistic director for the women’s ready-to-wear collections at Hermès from 1997 to 2003 – a period in the designer’s career which is set to be explored in an upcoming exhibition.
Opening in March, Margiela – The Hermès Years is being put on by MoMu fashion museum in Antwerp (where the designer studied in the late 70s) and will look at the 12 collections he designed for the Parisian house, and their relationship to his own label. While Margiela had a reputation for using grunge techniques – like deconstruction and recycling – and for his conceptual approach, these collections were sleek and minimal. They reflected the house’s sense of luxury and were duly met with acclaim.
“Mr. Margiela took to Hermès his conservative template, often obscured by his defining experiments in deconstruction. From this classic base, he defined the new Hermes as much with his choice of models as with the refined, careful clothes,” reported The New York Times of his first collection. “Airy raincoats as light as negligees, veiled wool jackets that resembled tunics with their plunging V-necks and softly tailored shoulders, and roomy cashmere trousers, often slipped under collarless coats, spoke of Mr. Margiela’s clear intent not to move Hermès away from its foundation.”
His appointment at Hermès came at a time when lots of houses were choosing to put big-name designers at the helm – John Galliano at Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen at Givenchy and Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton. While the Belgian was widely-known, he kept a very low profile in comparison, remaining almost completely anonymous and famously refusing to give any interviews.
Showcasing some of his most iconic looks from this period, this exhibition poses to be an interesting exploration of this moment in fashion history.
Margiela – The Hermès Years will be on show at MoMu, Antwerp, March 31st-August 27th, 2017. Head here for more information.
Watch a short film on Martin Margiela below: