Martin Margiela is a designer of his time. With the economy tanking, the conceptual Belgian took the commonest of materials — paper towels, shoelaces and plastic price-tag fasteners — and transformed them into witty confections for his Artisanal line. Long known for his penchant for recycling, Margiela used throwaway garments such as old jeans, shredded them and turned the result into a cascade of fringes on a one-legged jumpsuit. Old hair combs were fastened together into a dress, and colored plastic straws were applied to a leather jacket to form a tiger’s head and a gun in a way that resembled tattoos. Myriad pairs of shoelaces were strung together into a dress, and hundreds of small plastic price-tag fasteners were woven together into a coat that, from a distance, looked like a fur. The cheekiest piece was the white tuxedo jacket made from paper towels. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Margiela now made a dress out of the kitchen sink.

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