Since it's founding in 1988, Maison Martin Margiela has collected used – and sometimes new – clothes, accessories and objects from around the world. One of the cornerstones of the Maison’s creative expression is resurrecting these vintage pieces and recasting them in a new way that preserves the mark of time.
Take passage #5, a replica of the bust of Chopin – yes, really – is cut from a Calico cotton canvas base and embroidered with white marble cabochons at the neck, black ones on the vest and green ones on the jacket. This took 93 hours, made entirely by hand in the Margiela atelier. It might be a long way from the 900 hours of sweat that goes into a dress at another couture house, but it certainly isn’t a 10% of the proposition. Indeed, this collection is always a highlight for its sheer ambition: the Maison bends, stretches and remixes both time and memory. There’s nothing more grand – or intellectually satisfying – than that.
A dickey embroidered with sequin and glitter flowers was re-embroidered with fabric flowers (sourced in Los Angeles, London, Paris and Brussels) from the twenties through to the fifties for passage #10. It was shown with a draped glove, made from a silk panel with plant motifs dating from the 18th century by Maison Falsan in Lyon, further clustered with beads and sequins.
Brilliantly, these looks were worn with nothing loftier than 5-pocket blue jeans. Which is exactly what we’re craving after three days of the pomp that comes with fashion at its most haute.
Both Maison Martin Margiela and Raf Simons at Dior, a revelation on the first day (he was also in attendance here), are doing everything to preserve couture by dismantling it. Iris Van Herpen too. They all thrill heart and mind. Elsewhere, the schedule this season has too-often felt a clanking antiques roadshow, its window closed to the esprit du temps. There’s little allure in that.