Martin Margiela aficionados consider couture the maison’s most exciting output, as these collections are seen as most closely aligned with the founder’s inventive spirit and penchant for reappropriating found garments and objects.
For spring, the design team came up aces by bypassing offbeat materials like baseball mitts and tinsel in favor of a treasure trove of vintage fabrics, almost all of which were collector’s items, mostly sourced from private estates.
Textiles designed by Frank Lloyd Wright from the Fifties were whorled into long and lean bustier robes; Raoul Dufy’s “Les Violons” motif, which the painter produced for Bianchini-Férier, gave the surface of a wide-legged pantsuit an intriguing brushstroke, and luscious coats were crafted from thick tapestry, one of which boasted Paul Gauguin’s exotic “La femme du roi.”
The arty patterns were at times cut and rearranged, while embroideries were done with quirky little things one might find in a junk drawer — colorful chains, pearls, buttons, paperclips and tabs from tin cans. Today, they call it “upcycling,” but the notion of taking something used and twisting it into the new has always been Margiela territory.
If couture means that fabrics come first and have to be exclusive, then this was the height of haute.