Margiela and Hermès are together again at Paris' Museum of Decorative Arts

The marriage between the avant-garde Belgian designer Martin Margiela and the venerable luxury house Hermès was far from obvious, yet it is this surprising yet fruitful collaboration, that took place between 1997 and 2003, that is at the heart of the Parisian exhibition that opened on Thursday.




The exhibition, a retrospective of Margiela’s work as creative director at Hermès, was first curated and put on at the Antwerp Fashion Museum (MoMu) in 2017 and has now made its way to the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris.

Ten years after leaving Hermès, the enigmatic designer who always avoided photos and interviews will return to the limelight. Alongside his upcoming Paris exhibition, an exhibition on his 20 years in fashion has also been running since March 3 at Paris’ Palais Galliera.

The exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts has a two-colour scenography which allows the viewer to clearly distinguish between the clothing that Margiela made for his own brand and that which he made for Hermès during his six year stint there.

White paint covers the walls on the Margiela side bringing to mind the brand’s signature colour and the walls on the Hermès side are painted orange to reference the brand’s classic boxes. The exhibition’s curator, Marie-Sophie Carron de la Carrière, told AFP that the exhibition, which Margiela collaborated on himself, is designed to show a dialogue between the two brands’ worlds and to show they were mutually enriched by the collaboration.

“It was the vision of Jean-Louis Dumas, when he was at the helm of Hermès, to choose someone who seemed opposite and who did not have the image of luxury in their creations, who was very raw,” recalled Carron de la Carrière. “Thanks to the extraordinary materials that Hermès put at his disposal, knitwear, cashmere, leather, skins, Martin Margiela was able to continue the form of experimentation that he had already been implementing with his own brand.”

In this way, the tunic, the traditional sailor dress that Margiela was inspired by for his brand, was adapted for Hermès with a plunging v-neck, becoming a white cotton poplin shirt, or a tunic in knitwear or in leather. The classic trench coat conceived of by the designer in saddler leather contrasts with the restyled element of his own brand, found on a male model at the flea market and belted with a pair of stockings.

The iconoclast designer, known for his “deconstructive” approach to clothing, revamped men’s cloakroom classics for women and developed a sleek style with sober colours for Hermès, without using the brand’s signature printed scarves as expected.

There are 100 looks presented in the exhibition which compliment those on show at the Palais Galliera. However, there are also some items at both shows such as the famous Tabis, slit boots that separate the big toe from the others inspired by Japanese socks and a classic Margiela design.

“Margiela, the Hermès years” runs at the Museum of Decorative Arts (Musée des Arts Décoratifs) from March 22 to September 2 in Paris.

 

Translated by Isabelle Crossley

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