From 31 March until 27 August 2017, MoMu (the Antwerp fashion museum) will exhibit Belgian designer Martin Margiela’s Hermès collections. The tribute exhibition also explores the relationship between these collections and Margiela’s own label, Maison Martin Margiela.
When the Parisian house of Hermès appointed Belgian designer Martin Margiela as its artistic director for the women’s ready-to-wear collections in October 1997, the founder of Maison Martin Margiela had already been known for almost a decade as one of the most influential avant-garde designers. His predilection for the deconstruction, recycling and recovery of materials was unheard of in the fashion world.
The choice to appoint Margiela was a bold choice and entirely out of line with the prevailing trend in fashion to recruit celebrity designers to breathe new life into the traditional French fashion houses. The fashion press avidly speculated whether Margiela would apply his deconstruction idiom to the iconic Hermès legacy.
From 1997 until 2003, Margiela transposed his vision of modern-day luxury into twelve consecutive collections. His designs for Hermès surprised the press. His simple and monochrome colour palette diverged from the typical brightly-coloured Hermès prints. He was also able to distil his design and tailoring into sheer perfection. On the one hand, he introduced several innovations while guaranteeing comfort for the wearers of his designs.
Martin Margiela graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1980, one year before the Antwerp Six, with whom he is often associated. In 1984, he left for Paris to work for Jean-Paul Gaultier as an assistant designer until 1987. One year later he established Maison Martin Margiela and showed his first collection.
To date, Margiela’s work for Hermès continues to influence the work of many contemporary designers. During Paris Fashion Week for autumn-winter 2016-2017 the international press described Martin Margiela – who withdrew from the fashion world more than eight years ago – as the true protagonist of fashion week. High time to showcase some of his masterpieces in MoMu.
Antwerp is inextricably linked with fashion. Find out how fashion influences the City of Antwerp.
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