Sunday Lifestyle

The Margiela and Hermès women: A dialogue

WALK THE TALK - Cecilia Licauco - The Philippine Star
The Margiela and Hermès women: A dialogue
For Hermès, a loose shirt in cotton poplin, with removable pockets (inspired by pockets worn under robes in the 18th century). (Spring/Summer 2000, right). Similarly for his own line (left).

The Musée des Arts Decoratifs hosts “Margiela: The Hermès Years,” a tribute to the collaboration between the Belgian designer and the venerable house of Hermès from 1997 to 2003. Responsible for its women’s ready-to-wear collections, Martin Margiela featured clothes for a self-assured mature woman who preferred comfort, quality and timelessness. In fact, he made pieces that can be combined with other clothes, to flow from one season to the next. He presented his clothes on women of different body types, even of different ages. He used a monochrome color palette that could be matched according to her preference.

In his first collection for Hermès, Margiela presents a supple silhouette, with a raised shoulder line. This long cashmere coat contrasted with the popular broad-shouldered coats of the time. (Autumn/Fall 1998-1999)
Margiela asked his friends to model and sometimes asked ladies he saw on the street. The Margiela woman finds energy in controversial, unexpected creative innovations. Comfort is not her first priority, but rather the expression of her artistic sensibility, originality, and nerve.

This exhibit also looks into his own line, Maison Martin Margiela. Tradition, quality, craftsmanship, creativity and a great love for tailoring are the foundations of his work. Two different customers who are, somehow, similar in their preference for Margiela’s designs.

A double shirt of silk crepe. The top layer can be worn like a cape. (Spring/Summer 2004)

The show presents a dialogue between Margiela’s stint at Hermès and his own line, juxtaposing similarities and differences between both. Obviously, the Hermès woman expects to look and feel good after she pays for her outfit. The Margiela woman finds energy in controversial and unexpected creative innovations. Comfort is not her priority, but rather the expression of her artistic sensibility, originality and nerve.

For Hermès, Margiela preferred self-assured, mature women as his models. He found younger models inappropriate. He chose women from 25-65, something that was unheard of in the fashion world. His models moved comfortably and radiated confidence.

Today’s women of different ages can still wear what women wore 21 years ago, and still be in fashion. His out-of-the-box designs — then — have influenced other designers. Some coats were given another opening under the sleeve inset. The wearer can slide her arms in or out, creating different ways of wearing them. Other coats called sur-manches (over sleeves) have vertical slits, with a choice to keep the arms inside or out. Some sleeves can be attached to sleeveless shirts.

Interestingly practical design for what looks like a coat and a comforter at the same time.

Everyone expected Margiela to work the iconic Hermès printed scarves or carrés into the clothes. Instead, in 2001, he created his losange, a diamond-shaped scarf in monochrome silk twill, cut on the bias. It is worn like a necklace around the neck. He even made an extra large losange that was worn as an asymmetrical tunic.

Some sur-manche (oversized) coats have a vertical opening, so that the wearer can slide her arms in or out, creating different ways of wearing them. This jacket is completely garnished with mirror facets like a disco ball (Spring/Summer 2009)

After Margiela graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp in 1980, he worked as an assistant of Jean Paul Gaultier from 1984-1987. The exhibit’s literature claims that despite his success in the fashion world, he has never made a personal appearance. He would give interviews via fax, using the first-person plural, recognizing the teamwork done to make his shows possible.

A monochromatic diamond-shaped, silk twill scarf or losange finished with the Hermès hand-rolled hem. (2001)

Martin Margiela’s work — both for Hermès and on his own — proves that his designs are timeless and can be worn with confidence even today.

In his last collection for Hermès, Margiela included this extralarge losange worn as an asymmetrical tunic.
Jane Birkin wears oversized jeans by Margiela (2000).

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“Margiela: The Hermès Years” is at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs until Sept. 2. “Margiela/Galliera, 1989-2009” shows at the Palais Galliera until July 15.

Tell me where to Walk the Talk: [email protected] Instagram: cecilialicauco2.




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