Martin Margiela (born 9 April 1957) is a Belgian fashion designer and the founder of French fashion house Maison Margiela. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Antwerp) in 1979, a year before the avant-garde fashion collective the Antwerp Six.
Life and work
Margiela was born in Genk. After graduation, he based himself in Paris and worked as a freelance designer for five years. Between 1985 and 1987 he worked for Jean Paul Gaultier, before showing his first collection under his own label Maison Margiela, which he started with his business partner Jenny Meirens in 1989.
Margiela redesigns by hand objects such as old wigs, canvases and silk scarves into couture garments. During the 1980s, the Japanese avantgardists, with Rei Kawakubo, influenced the global fashion scene with their eccentric and ground-breaking designs. Margiela and the Antwerp Six would carry on the work, revolting against the luxurious fashion world with garments of oversized proportions such as long arms, and with linings, seams and hems on the outside. The concept of deconstruction embraced by Kawakubo matters also for Margiela's fashion statement.
Throughout his career, Margiela has maintained a low personal profile. He has never given an interview and remains backstage after his shows. His face is not publicly known; throughout his career, only one known photo exists, taken in 1997 by Marcio Madeira (Zepplin photos) but never officially verified. All media contact is dealt with via fax. Maison Martin Margiela's ultra-discreet trademark consists of a piece of cloth with the numbers 0-23. The badge is attached to the inside with four small, white pick-stitches, exposed to the outside on unlined garments. For the 20th anniversary the anonymous tag was replaced by a classic logotype.
Margiela's brand was acquired by the OTB Group in 2002 and industry insiders were quoted as suggesting that Margiela may desire to leave due to creative differences, or simply, "A desire to enjoy his life outside the insistent glare of the fashion world."
A 2008 article from the New York Times gave many in the fashion world their first glimpse of Margiela's face, as well as breaking the news that he allegedly offered to hand the reins of his company over to Raf Simons, who appears to have declined the offer. Haider Ackermann was later offered the position as creative director, but similarly turned it down.
In October 2009, Margiela majority stakeholder Renzo Rosso, President of OTB Group, the holding group of Marni, Viktor & Rolf, and Diesel, publicly stated that, "Martin has not been there for a long time. He is here but not here. We have a new fresh design team on board. We are focusing on young, realistic energy for the future; this is really Margiela for the year 2015."
A press release announced in December 2009 that Margiela "has left the business. No replacement creative director will be appointed. Maison Martin Margiela will continue trading but the company declined to comment on the reasons for Margiela's exit."
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- Walker, Harriet (6 December 2009). "Out of sight, not out of mind: Celebrating two decades of Martin Margiela magic". The Independent. London. Retrieved 6 December 2009.