NEW YORK — Oh, the fervent anticipation. News had come that the lofty fashion god Martin Margiela would unveil his fall collection Wednesday evening at seven boutiques around the world — including Charivari 57 here — and make a surprise appearance at one. The now-renowned invitation read: “Presentation 7:00 – 7:05 p.m. Reception 7:05 – 8:30.”
After Margiela was spotted browsing through the Mme. Gres exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Tuesday, intuitive minds figured, hey, he’ll be at Charivari tomorrow, 7 p.m. sharp. Never mind that he had refused to see many editors in Paris six months ago when all those lesser design talents showed their collections. This would be five minutes of fashion at its most cerebral — definitely worth the cab ride, even if fall’s editorial calendar rolled along quite nicely without him. This was to be an event, complete with an allegedly limited guest list. “He doesn’t want a lot of people there,” said one young editor. “Just the right people.”
When the Right People — stylists, editors and other sundry victims — arrived, they learned that the “presentation” would take place in the store’s window, so most just hung out on the sidewalk and waited. “Maybe this is the event — getting us all to stand out here like idiots,” said one observer. By the time the paper curtain was torn away at 7:22, the crowd was heavily peppered with crashers, and perhaps 15 people actually got a good look at the goings-on in the window. “I don’t have to see the clothes,” said a voice in the crowd. “I bought some last year.”
Prophetic words, since a few of the 12 outfits Margiela showed were “signatures” from past seasons. Some of the others merely looked as if they were, although most were quite beautiful. Margiela showed them on “real women” including stylist Misha Calloway, fashion editor Evyan Metzner and her mother, photographer Sheila Metzner. They stood in a semicircle, their eyes taped shut with silver tape, for about five minutes.
Finally, the crowd started to move into the store. The Deity stood in a tight white T-shirt, white jeans and black cap, studiously talking to his friends and ignoring the crowd. He shoved his hand at one photographer who nonetheless managed to snap a photograph, and then rushed off, pushing people aside in an effort to get to the models.
The evening’s soundtrack was snippets of favorite songs of “all the models in all the events around the world,” according to Margiela’s partner, Jenny Meirens. Every 15 minutes, the music stopped and church bells tolled. This was a signal for all activity to cease and six of the models — in the same outfits — came onto the floor for further contemplation.
“Please look at the models,” Margiela said to anyone who tried to talk to him. “I think everyone should pay attention to the models.”
Finally, Margiela began to grasp hands and accept congratulations. The designer said he was flying back to Paris Thursday, but Meirens said they would stay through the weekend, exploring New York.
“We will go wherever the spirit takes us,” said Meirens. “We don’t plan.”
And while Margiela came to New York for the Charivari event, he had lunch the next day with Gene Pressman; evidently, the spirit took him to Barneys New York.