MARTIN MARGIELA ARTISANAL: Recover the design (clothing)


In honor of our Inhabitat panel, Reclaiming Design, taking place today at HauteGREEN, Sustainable Style Sunday features a favorite fashion designer who also loves salvage, Martin Margiela. He is a designer with whom we can identify here at Inhabitat. A visit to the Margiela store feels like part of a sophisticated handcrafted lab experience, white interiors and lab-coated vendors coexist with raw details. This suits a designer who, after all, is known for serving red wine in white beakers during his presentations.

Read on below

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Margiela’s Artisanal reconstructed clothing line is what really appeals to us. It has been part of his repertoire for years. On a visit to the store last year, I was taken away by a single black dress holding a yard over an otherwise empty clothes rack. The dress consisted of three vintage wedding dresses then died in black, explained my “clinician.” I reread it while trying on boots from their “vintage reproduction” line. These pieces are rare, last year only 8 pieces were made for each of the 8 themes, one piece per store which would be changed monthly. I later saw an exhibit at Barneys of pieces from the artisan line that did not disappoint. It inspired me to learn more about the elusive designer …

The International Herald Tribune states that Margiela is:

a designer who founded his brand 17 years ago in rebellion against what he saw as the runaway consumerism of the 1980s. His winter 1989 runway drew audiences with an advertisement in a free Paris and s ended with models wearing the white cotton coats that are the uniform of all of Margiela’s staff. Fabrics printed with tattoos, vests made from broken crockery, boots with parted toes, sweaters created from army socks, and clothes covered in plastic dry-cleaning wrappers were all the first signs of the Margiela’s favorite for recycling, for unfinished effects and for giving everyday objects a dysfunctional beauty aspect…

But alongside more outrageous examples or one-off handcrafted pieces, Margiela continued her fascination with cut and sewn by developing classics such as trench coats, recycled Prince of Wales suits, quilts of old jeans or simple dresses. with offset necklines. In 1998, tailoring for both sexes looked more like modernist tailoring than urban quirks. By following a roundabout route, the designer had achieved 21st century elegance.

In an interview on, Margiela answers a few questions about her artisan line:

You’ve been described as making clothes out of clothes. Where do you think this fascination with clothing came from?
This comes from the structure of the clothes, and from the challenge presented to us by the possibility of transforming or displacing the given rules of such a structure. This approach is especially true for our “artisan production” where we rework existing clothes, fabrics and items to create new clothes. We hope, however, that our work is more about clothing that concerns the port than clothing !!

Please explain the concept behind your craft collection. What is the difference between reworking an existing garment and a pastiche?
Well there, you baffled us! We consider the pastiche to have nothing to do with this process or its results! For us our ‘artisanal production’ (for men’s and women’s clothes they can be identified by the 0 (zero) circled on their label), as we said here, we rework existing clothes, fabrics and objects to recreate new clothes and accessories. We first took this approach for our inaugural Spring / Summer 1989 collection and it has been an integral and important part of each of our collections ever since. This quest for clothing transformation arose out of the desire to treat the structural constraints of a particular garment as a design challenge. Often more than one garment is combined to produce a new design, so one consideration is that the original garments are used as a raw material of which often only small elements of their original structure are used to shape the new one. Even if the initial impulse is that of design and not that of recycling, the result allows to give a second life to these elements.

* some images via fuk and fashionologie

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