Byline: Katherine Weisman

PARIS — Hermes International said Friday that Martin Margiela will be “determining the direction” of its women’s ready-to-wear collection beginning with the fall-winter 1998-1999 season.
The announcement confirms a report printed in WWD April 9 that Margiela was talking with Hermes.
While contract terms were not disclosed, Margiela will be working in collaboration with Hermes women’s designer Thomas Maier, who has been part of the Hermes women’s design team since 1988.
The current design team, comprising Michele and Olivier Chatenet, Tan Giudicelli, Marc Audibet and Maier, will remain in place for the upcoming spring-summer 1998 collection. That will be shown in Paris next October, the company said.
Margiela was vacationing and could not be reached for comment.
“We are very happy about the collaboration, and we hope it will be a long one,” said a spokesman for the designer. Hermes chairman Jean-Louis Dumas was traveling Friday and could not be reached for comment.
Maria Luisa Poumaillou, owner of the Maria Luisa store here, who has carried Margiela for several years, said: “Martin Margiela is a formidable artisan. He is the king of the suit and has studied it in all of its senses. Hermes is about the artisanal side of luxury.”
Simon Doonan, executive vice president, director of creative services of Barneys New York, said the move is “a brilliant choice.”
“When everybody else in Paris seems to be selecting designers based on talent and their ability to generate trade publicity, Hermes has gone for somebody low key whose only claim to fame is inventiveness,” said Doonan. “He’s an avant-garde guy whose starting point is tailoring and the jacket. We carry both collections, so of course we’re delighted with the synergy.”
Barbara Weiser, vice president of Charivari in New York, which carries Margiela, said she felt Hermes had made a commitment to “a real designer.”
“He has a diversity in what he does that I think a lot of people don’t know about,” Weiser said. “He does wonderful classic jackets, for instance.”
Margiela started his company in 1988, and current annual volume is $5.2 million (30 million francs), according to the Margiela spokesman. He will continue with his own collection, the spokesman said, and also as a design consultant to two Italian companies, Allegri and Cachmire.

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