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By Chere Di Boscio
Rarely does a couture house dig through the past to create a modern present quite as innovatively as Maison Martin Margiela.
The radical maison fashions quirky runway creations from whichever pieces pique its interest that season, ranging from frocks from the flapper era, embroidery samples, vintage fabric patches and even three dimensional objects, such as pocket change, or the red lobster sewn into a piece recently, which would have been right at home in a scene painted by Salvador Dali.
It’s always a pleasure to see exactly what Maison Martin Margiela will come up with from season to season. What objects will they use? How will they use them? And will they be incorporated into something truly wearable?
They inevitably are. From a dress made mainly from recycled baseball glove leather to using bottle tops and other small pieces of refuse as sequins, the cleverness of the house never fails to amaze. But these aren’t just clothes; these are statements on the waste of a consumer society out of control–and what’s more, the masks the models wear are a strong statement that flies in the face of our obsession with celebrity.
This rejection of celebrity culture extends to the house itself, which refuses to use ‘supermodels’ in its catwalk shows (and even usually covers the faces of their models), and insists that the entire maison is a ‘design collective’ (despite Suzy Menkes stating that the Head of Design is Matthieu Blazy).
But as radically punk as the Margiela shows can be, they are more than a mere rebel yell. This house has succeeded where Vivienne Westwood has failed– they criticise consumerism, but walk the walk by making their collections as show-fashion and eco-friendly as possible.
And above all, they speak of the hope and the power a bit of human creativity can bring.