Martin Margiela Is Back – The New York Times


More than 13 years after leaving vogue behind, Martin Margiela, the elusive and extremely influential Belgian designer who modified how we dressed within the Nineteen Nineties. is again. But not as a part of a nostalgia-pushed pattern wave. As an artist.

On Oct. 20, Mr. Margiela’s debut solo present, which is untitled, opens at Lafayette Anticipations — Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette in Paris. Like the Margiela garments, which deconstructed notions of the swimsuit and wonder via unconventional supplies and approaches, the exhibition creates a way of surprise across the banal via some 40 sculptures, collages, work, installations and movies. It is sort of as if Mr. Margiela views the world via the lens of a photographic adverse, highlighting the main points most of us by no means see and demanding they be reconsidered.

“I became obsessed with fashion very early in my life and developed my own vision by presenting it in the most conceptual way possible,” Mr. Margiela, now 64, wrote in an e-mail. (The designer famously by no means confirmed his face or gave an in-particular person interview throughout his time in vogue, and he has not modified his strategy now.) But, he wrote, “I needed to explore other mediums, to enjoy pure creation without boundaries.”

According to Patrick Scallon, the artwork and communications director of Maison Martin Margiela from 1993 to 2008, Mr. Margiela’s transition to artwork just isn’t surprising. “The approach to the show, the invitation, the clothes themselves, was always artistic,” he mentioned of his time there. “But we were always loath to call it art because it is limited to the use and function of clothing. We were part of a commercial and industrial process.”

It was Mr. Margiela’s determination to go away that course of in 2009. “Everything was immediately pushed out on the internet,” he defined within the 2019 documentary “Margiela in His Own Words.(The OTB vogue group, which had acquired his firm in 2002, rebranded it Maison Margiela, and since 2014, its collections have been designed by John Galliano.)

In switching artistic fields as vogue industrialized, he’s following within the footsteps of well-known designers like Thierry Mugler, who now describes himself as a director-perfumer-photographer (amongst different issues); Christian Lacroix, who harnessed his couture expertise to design opera and ballet costumes after shedding the rights to his title in 2009; and Helmut Lang, who’s now a full-time artist.

In reality, it was Mr. Lang who kick-began Mr. Margiela’s subsequent act by inviting him to current considered one of his early artwork objects — a plaster forged of a jacket he made in 1989 — as a part of an exhibition Mr. Lang was curating on the Deste Foundation in Athens in 2009.

“Whatever the original intention behind the piece was, it illustrates Martin Margiela as the visionary man he has always been,” Mr. Lang wrote within the accompanying publication. “His body of work has been so much more than fashion or clothing. I also see the white surface of plaster as a chance for a new beginning, which a stagnant industry will need in order to stay interesting and maintain proper appreciation for creative ideas in defense of fashion derivatives.”

To information him additional in his profession transition, Mr. Margiela labored with the Belgian artwork historian Chris Dercon, the president of the French cultural umbrella RMN-Grand Palais in Paris. Mr. Dercon, who oversees 18 museums in addition to the glass-domed landmark on the Champs-Élysées and is among the uncommon people to have truly met Mr. Margiela in particular person.

Mr. Dercon staged Mr. Margiela’s first exhibition of clothes in 1997 at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam; in 2009, he introduced Maison Martin Margiela’s two-decade retrospective from the MoMu Fashion Museum in Antwerp to Haus der Kunst in Munich; and in 2018, he met Mr. Margiela in particular person at his Paris studio. He has continued to go to him on an virtually weekly foundation ever since.

“We had a series of critiques,” Mr. Dercon mentioned. “I did not hold back in saying whether it was good or bad, necessary or unnecessary, a contribution or not. I showed him the work of other artists and warned him that he was not alone. He is such a gifted drawer and maker, but I encouraged him to push the boundaries of technique.”

In 2019, they mounted a non-public exhibition in an residence and invited round 20 folks. Frank Demaegd, the founding father of Zeno X Gallery in Antwerp who now represents Mr. Margiela, was there, as was the graphic designer Irma Boom, who’s collaborating with Mr. Margiela on the exhibition catalog. The residence itself was owned by the Galeries Lafayette Group, which is how the present present got here to be.

At Lafayette Anticipations, guests enter via the rear emergency exit of the muse, and entry the assorted flooring through a service elevator or stairs normally closed to the general public. The structure is labyrinthine; a number of the galleries are divided by ground-to-ceiling workplace blinds.

“This show is very much about time — the passing of time, the ways in which we resist time, or how we accept it,” mentioned Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel, the present’s curator, “Martin really wanted to avoid producing anything that would be related to his fashion.”

One of the works, “Vanitas,” for instance, is made of 5 silicone spheres of imitation pores and skin, every one implanted with totally different coloured hairs starting from blond to brown to grey, to discover the consequences of time on the physique. For “Triptych,” Mr. Margiela painstakingly reproduced a picture from beard dye packaging in oil paint, every panel demonstrating the shade that may be achieved relying on the pure shade. (As the son of a hairdresser, Mr. Margiela has all the time had a specific fascination with hair.)

Other works elevate the in-between moments of life. “Bus Shelter” is simply that, solely coated in a layer of fake fur and put in reverently inside a large vitrine. “Monument” wraps a complete wall of the muse in a tarpaulin with a trompe l’oeil print of a constructing, like these used to hide historic monuments throughout renovation.

“There is always a danger that people are going to look at his art and only see the famous designer,” Mr. Dercon mentioned of Mr. Margiela. “But his work is so intriguing and precise.”

All of the works on show at Lafayette Anticipations can be on the market, with costs beginning at round 10,000 euros (roughly $11,600) for small sculptures that are available an version of three and going as much as about 120,000 euros ($139,400) for bigger one-of-a-variety items.

“We have had a lot of interest since sending out the announcement that we are representing Margiela,” mentioned Nina Hendrickx, a director at Zeno X Gallery. “But we would like to focus on selling the work to art museums and public institutions as much as possible, or at least private collectors with public spaces, before the prices go up.”

There are plans for the exhibition to tour internationally, most definitely beginning in China, and Mr. Margiela is included within the Zeno X Gallery stand on the FIAC artwork honest in Paris (Oct. 21 to 24). Beyond that, the RMN-Grand Palais and the Louvre have commissioned an authentic work, and a present at Eenwerk Gallery in Amsterdam is deliberate for later this 12 months.

In this artistic blossoming, like the discharge of “Margiela in His Own Words,” the artwork exhibition is yet one more step for Mr. Margiela in reclaiming and shaping his personal legacy. So will he shock the world and make an look at any of the forthcoming occasions?

“Martin will not be present,” Mr. Dercon mentioned. “His anonymity has given him absolute freedom. But I do wonder how long he will be able to maintain it.”

Martin Margiela’s works can be on show at Lafayette Anticipations — Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette from Oct. 20 till Jan. 2, 2022.