Diving Deep into the Margiela Archives
I recently looked at all of Martin Margiela’s 41 collections for his eponymous line, spanning from 1989 to 2009, and listed out some themes and notable favorites.
Although the themes change for each collection, Margiela largely sticks to his exposed seams and visible linings, red / white / black color palette, reversed and detachable parts, oversized pieces, and transformation of one garment into another (for example, a dress worn as a skirt). Reoccurring designs include the usage of linings as clothes, collars or cuffs as bracelets or necklaces, detachable sleeves, tights over shoes, men’s jackets worn by women, trompe l’oeil, and, possibly most importantly, objects repurposed as garments.
1989 S/S Collection (#1): introduction of the Tabi boot, which Margiela will go on to use for most of his collections, a trompe l’oeil tattoo t-shirt, detachable shirtsleeves, vertical lines drawn on models’ back legs to mimic the effects of nylon stocking seams, usage of darts to emphasize details (3rd picture on back of dress), and the introduction of a completely new silhouette (raised shoulders with sleeve caps, but still narrow and tight instead of the wide shoulders that had previously been in style).
1989 A/W Collection (#2): a vest made out of broken dishes, a faux three-piece pantsuit (replacing the vest with a miniskirt, depicted on 2nd model in the pics below) with the Margiela silhouette of raised shoulders, and patchwork shearling.
1990 S/S Collection (#3): large tank top (Margiela’s first foray into oversized) squeezed under a mesh t-shirt so that the folds made it look like a dress, sleeveless vest made out of advertising poster paper, metal breast plates, plastic supermarket bag worn as a blouse, and a clear plastic garment bag worn as a dress (look up Bill Cunningham’s pics). This show was what catapulted Margiela’s reputation into global leagues and drew attention to deconstructivism.
1990 A/W Collection (#4): dress linings worn as dresses, thigh high boots squeezed under footless tights (second model in the combined pics below), sweaters broomstick-knit by his mother (first and fourth model), dresses covered in small, vertical cuts (third model), and, as featured before in his past collections, detachable sleeves.
1991 S/S Collection (#5): 1950s ball gowns and dresses transformed into waistcoats, coats made from recycled jean jackets and pants.
1991 A/W Collection (#6): Margiela silhouette of the pleated shoulder structure above the natural shoulder line, the back of jackets / capes hugging the body using a system of internal ties on the inside fastened across the stomach, and sweaters made from old socks (first picture below — he even published a guide on how to make this!).
1992 S/S Collection (#7): faded jeans painted white (inspired today’s painted denim), salvaged vintage scarves adding in a colorful twist, against Margiela’s norm of not having prints, Breton stripes extended in painted lines onto skin and jeans.
1992 A/W Collection (#8): clear plastic bag dress, black nylon tights as a top and skirt.
1993 S/S Collection (#9): reworked theater costumes and adapted wide men’s jackets to a women’s form by narrowing the shoulders.
1994 A/W Collection (#12): introduced the Replica collection and brought doll clothes up to human sizes while still maintaining the same proportions (i.e. the huge zipper and buttons, etc.).
1996 S/S Collection (#15): negatives of photographs of clothes were printed on fluid materials, giving them trompe l’oeil volume. Tabi soles were held in place with clear packaging tape.
1996 A/W Collection (#16): a more refined (and beige) collection that caught the attention of Hermès, featuring outsized proportions (i.e. gloves that were so elongated that they were almost like sleeves, huge belts).
1997 S/S and A/W Collections (#17–18): S/S featured a hallowed-out stockman dress form worn as a stiff jacket. To critics, this was probably Margiela’s best and most radical collection. S/S also featured a lesson on drapery on different parts of the upper body in transparent-black muslin. A/W continued the use of the stockman dummy but in half outfits, seemingly in unfinished manufacturing processes. The wigs on the models are made out of fur.
1998 S/S and A/W Collections (#19–20): completely flat, 2D clothes that could still be worn, featuring some made out of plastic.
1999 A/W Collection (#22): objects morphed into garments, such as the cork necklace and down comforters transformed into winter coats.
2000 S/S and A/W Collection (#23–24): oversized, with A/W arguably more elegant than S/S (the third picture is from A/W). Beige fur tails and tissue paper made an appearance in the A/W collection.
2001 S/S Collection (#25): oversized skirts kept up only by the model’s outstretched hands, and shirts made out of used gloves or old garment labels. Notice the skirt “stained” with the red of the stockings.
2001 A/W Collection (#26): capes with details of traditional coats in the back, sous vide buttons, fringed dresses, and vintage t-shirts unstitched and overlaid to create a crumpled yet flattened look.
2002 A/W Collection (#28): four-sleeved jackets (an extra sleeve in the front and an extra sleeve in the back), lapels and buttons hidden by shirtfronts worn on top, and handbags fitted entirely in white cotton.
2003 S/S Collection (#29): dresses worn as skirts with their bodices hanging over the hips, (a dress worn with one arm through the slit of a side seam and the bottom hem raised over the shoulder), shoe lace bustiers, and lingerie plated with silvery plastic.
2003 A/W Collection (#30): skirts slashed at the waist to expose lining, tops made from reclaimed shirtsleeves, and PVC belts yellowed to show “aging”.
2004 S/S Collection (#31): emphasis on the front while ignoring the back, with two-toned tabi boots and stockings (the dominant color on the front) and dresses with their backs completely open.
2004 A/W Collection (#32): consisted of 4 collections; (1) “clothing objects” such as a bustier made out of vintage boots or a stole made out of men’s felt hats,(2) tromp l’oeil prints such as a dress with a Chesterfield chair print, (3) “cliche fabrics” with weird fabrics such as ostrich feathers, snake skin, or gold lame, and (4) “authentic wardrobe” consisting of regular clothes, but with some details removed or exaggerated (i.e. enlarged composition labels).
2005 S/S Collection (#33): dresses worn sideways at 90 degrees (head through the armhole) or used as skirts, asymmetrical and mismatched assembly of clothes (inspired by a stockpile of stockings), and destroyed “After Party” stilettos (not tabis! for the first time).
2005 A/W Collection (#34): the backs of jackets, coats, sweaters, and cardigans were raised to form hoods, tight skirts and dresses were made from medical gauze, wigs were made into jackets, and gaffer tape covered collars, buttons, shoes to give a trompe l’oeil leather look.
2006 S/S Collection (#35): unfinished, in-process clothing that were asymmetrical and still attached to rolls of fabrics placed on top of the dollies, colored ice cubes that dyed the fabric as they melted, “caution” and “fragile” stickers, and polka dots with holes in black tights that also mimicked the polka dots.
2006 A/W Collection (#36): armchair and car seat coverings adapted to make tops, with bungee cords and seatbelts and telephones worn as belts, large sales tags and picture frames as accessories, rhinestones and velvet.
2007 S/S Collection (#37): red, white, and blue, stars and stripes, polka dots (Margiela despised elaborate color palettes but wanted to look at fashion through new lens), new silhouette formed by shoulder pads in bodysuits (3rd picture), trompe l’oeil bra, extra long pant legs, and flowy jersey fabric.
2007 A/W Collection (#38): extra wide shoulder line (expanded 5+ inches longer than average), boots wrapped in sheer stretch fabric bags, legging-skirts, the colors of the tops “bleeding” into the models’ hairs, tops made out of 3 tubes (2nd picture below), and dress-capes (3rd picture below).
2008 S/S Collection (#39): black bands “censoring” the bust and hips over flesh-colored clothing that acted as “nudity”, horse t-shirt, extremely frayed white denim, and trompe l’oeil designs of sparkling sequins and light reflecting off black latex. The press emphasized this collection to be “sexier” than his other ones.
2008 A/W Collection (#40): asymmetry, fishnets, and a new silhouette of large raised collars that covered part of the face (middle picture, 2nd model), as well as a new “cone” silhouette that had rigid necklines going straight up (middle picture, 1st model). The third picture encapsulates both new silhouettes.
2009 S/S Collection (#41): 40 looks for each of Margiela’s past collections, model anonymity preserved as usual with gauze or wigs.