Couture’s Eco Artisan: Maison Margiela

By Chere Di Boscio

Unless you’re a keen home decorator or work in the design industry, you may not realise that many architects, artist and designers have created textiles for home interiors. Jean Paul Gauthier’s sailor tattoo motifs decorate pillows, Sonia Rykiel’s florals are on many a bedspread, and there are several curtains printed with Matisse’s cutouts.


Enamoured by this fabric art, Maison Martin Margiela based its latest collection for Paris’s Haute Couture Week SS14 on reclaimed interiors fabrics and upholstery. The re-interpreted printed textiles were decorated with works from French artist Jearn Lurcat, tattoo artist Sailor Jerry, and architect Frank Lloyd Wright, amongst others.


This was wearable art in its purest form: the Margiela design team seem to be shouting out that not only can art itself became clothing, but also, wearing clothing can be an art form.


The Margiela runway show illustrated these points well–a Frank Lloyd Wright textile transformed into a column dress; a 1920 Bauhaus tapestry became an opera coat; a bustier dress was cut from the ‘Le coq’ tapestry by Lurcat.


Evidence of meticulous labour was behind each piece. Maison  Margiela reports that it took 23 hours to create a T-shirt decorated with old Fortuny fabric, and 49 hours of couture went into the Frank Lloyd Wright dress, for example.


As usual, the models wore masks to detract viewers from their beauty so they could focus on the artistry of the clothing instead. But these masks themselves have now become as coveted as the designs they’re meant to help showcase–Kanye West wore one of last season’s masks on his most recent tour, and Lady Gaga is a regular buyer.


Many question whether such avant-garde fashion can trickle down to the mainstream, but Margiela always does. Last season, the brand’s  couture jeans  were translated into the house’s ready-to-wear offerings; this season, we think the eye motifs and ’60s prints will carry over to the mass market.

But what we really hope goes mainstream is the upscaling of beautiful vintage fabrics into works of wearable art.


Exclusive backstage image on main slider by Emmanuel Sarnin. All other images from Maison Margiela.


Chere Di Boscio
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