Most fashion labels would bristle with indignation were you to call their latest collection 'flat' or 'square'. But as established over the past two decades, Maison Martin Margiela aren't your average fashion house - and flat and square was most decidedly their 'look' for S/S 2011.
In fact, nix that last comment. It feels odd to discuss Margiela's clothing in terms of looks when those aesthetics are deeply embedded in the intellectual investigations of the house's creative team. More accurate would be to state that Margiela were thinking flat for S/S 2011, with typical perversity at a time when the rest of the fashion fraternity is pushing to render everything in 3-D. To open, Margiela explored the idea of vacuum-forming their clothing from flat panels of fabric, fashioning skinny sleeves from wide, trapping figures and limbs in sheets of cloth that projected like fins from the resulting garments. This concept lead to some arresting results, and will no doubt make for exceptional images - especially when wardrobe staples like the trench, tuxedo and beaded evening gown were steam-rollered into two-dimensions and set proudly in front of the figure like trompe l'oeil canvasses.
At the same time, that was the issue. They looked great for catwalk pictures as show pieces, but how could this concept ever relate to modern dress? That's an idea we've often asked at Margiela shows, but usually it's the ground-breaking complexity of the house's thinking that has stumped us, not mere practicality. There was nothing complex here: the idea was simple to grasp, simplistic even, and reiterated more than one too many times. Other than a few dozen of those showpiece square bodices, there was little note-worthy. Margiela's trademark flesh body was reworked, again (FYI, this time it has tanlines), and the shoes and accessories were innovative, feet sinking surreally into classic evening stilletos and perspex necklace display stands usurping their valuable charges to become jewellery in their own right. All very entertaining, but after decades of redefining fashion and last season's return to creative form, this one-note show was a let-down