Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Maison Martin Margiela: Spring 2010 and the end of an era

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I just realized that right after executives confirmed that Martin Margiela has left the house he founded — and wouldn't, at least immediately, be replaced — we can no longer refer to future collections as works by the Belgian genius. Indeed, it's a sad day when a name becomes a mere corporate shell.

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Of course, this is inevitable for any maison, but nostalgia can't help but kick in, especially if the designer is still around, as in the case of Hedi Slimane, Jil Sander, and Helmut Lang.

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If there is (was? so let's decide to shift tense) any label that doesn't need theatrics — for the menswear line at least — it would be Maison Martin Margiela. The craft of the clothes and concepts behind them were more than enough to compensate for the brand's low profile and lack of advertising. Needless to say, the house's pieces were its only metaphors; there was nothing else that needed to be evoked.

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I have written before, in this site's most popular post: Martin Margiela and the bindness of fashion, that "it appears Maison Martin Margiela creates clothes for the joy of it, and that is what people buy. Plain and simple."

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This joy, it seems, is still alive among Margiela's designers, though to lesser degree. Critics are right to point out that the recent shows have been less heady.

Of course, one may say that Renzo Rosso's intervention with the brand increased sales by a great number, but I suspect those that now flock to stores look for something different.

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Spring 2010, as it were, lists an itinerary of past ventures: drape jackets and trenches, sweaters and cardigans that look like bandages, shoes with painted-over soles, jeans and blazers painted with the remembrance of flowers, strange and asymmetrical collars, and jacket hems taken from lab coats.

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But the collection only goes so far.

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For me, it feels like a lament for the passing of a mentor.

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The designs yearn for their progenitor to bring them to the next creative stage.

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This time, the all-white outfits cry out like orphans.

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Like memories slowly fading.

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