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Margiela’s years as Creative Director for Hermès are celebrated for the first time in a new exhibition at MoMu in Antwerp.
Between 1997 and 2003, the elusive Martin Margiela was made Creative Director of the prestigious french fashion titan Hermès. It was an interesting appointment, given that Margiela had already established a strong precedent for deconstructed, avant-garde fashion within his own label, Maison Margiela. Pairing this tendency toward rigorous re-workings of convention with a brand that was established in 1837 and came to fame thanks to leather saddle bags did, as one might imagine, raise more than a few eyebrows in the industry.
Yet over 12 collections, the designer honed a modern, luxury aesthetic for the brand, offering a unique hybrid of classic tailoring and innovation. That’s not to say he didn’t frame this through his own lens: Margiela had a made-to-measure tailor’s dummy developed for him at Hermès based on the natural body he envisioned for his Hermès woman; he also used a new logo, drawn from one he found on a pair vintage Hermès gloves from the 1970s.
While inviting audiences to explore this canon of work for the first time, the exhibition will also invite a deeper consideration of the work of Margiela for his own label. As is noted in the press release, “the exhibition can be perceived as a vast wardrobe, in which the two worlds of Martin Margiela can engage in dialogue with one another.” The juxtapositions of pieces serves as a reminder of how talented Margiela is as a tailor, as well as an innovator.
MoMu’s refreshing take on Margiela, framed through the challenge that many designers continue to face, of how to modernise a luxury heritage brand while remaining true to the original ethos, allows audiences to enjoy the complexities and nuances of the designer – an expert in traditional tailoring, and an industry provocateur.
Margiela, The Hermès Years is on at MoMu in Antwerp, March 31 – August 27, 2017