Undoubtedly one of the most respected houses in the industry and a defining force in fashion, Maison Margiela began as an anonymous design collective in Paris in 1988. It produced deconstructed clothing in a restrained palette of white and black, styles that ran in contrast to the dominant trends of the Eighties. Behind the label was Martin Margiela, an avant-garde Belgian designer who saw fashion as a means of exploring philosophical ideas. All who worked at the house were required to wear a uniform of white lab coats—a nod to the haute couture ateliers of the past as well as a symbol of collective unity. Logos were shunned. Instead four discreet stitches, visible on the reverse of a garment, would provide a quiet signal to like-minded people.
THE DEFINING MOMENTS
Beyond its iconic pieces (the invisible Ghost heel, the trompe-l'oeil tattoo top, the split-toed Tabi shoe among them), Margiela has developed a reputation for iconic showmanship. Rather than showing in the center of Paris, as was custom, Margiela sought out unorthodox locations. The most famous example being the Montmartre Cemetery show in 1993, where two shows (one all in white, the other in black) took place at either end of the graveyard.
THE GALLIANO YEARS
2014 marked a turning point for the house. The high-profile John Galliano was appointed creative director. In his three-year tenure, Galliano has received critical praise for his technical skill and for imbuing the label with a newfound femininity for the 21st century. For Fall / Winter '17, Galliano turned his focus to America, de-familiarizing a classic trench with cutouts in the shape of the Statue of Liberty. Destined to become an iconic collectible, the trench serves as a timely symbol of freedom, and of fashion's ability to express ideas greater than the clothing itself—a concept at the very heart of Maison Margiela.