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Maison Martin Margiela Couture AW13

With clothes out of curtains and Art Nouveau specimens in silk tulle, Margiela ticks all boxes

TextSusie LauPhotographyLea Colombo

Maison Martin Margiela’s Ligne 1 "Artisanal" collection exists as a unique entity on the haute couture schedule remaking, reinterpreting and almost fetishizing something old to create something new. As opposed to making and measuring to a client's needs, it’s tailoring and customizing garments to recapture the spirit of the original piece. For its latest collection, the artisanal atelier go for broke on deliberately strong contrasts and, thankfully, it pays off. How else to explain a show beginning with daywear remakes of the humble jeans and a t-shirt in precisely draped latex made with the House of Harlot in London, harmonizing with the final showstopper of a coat made out of a Beijing opera costume dating from the 1930s? Everything in between was a clever interplay between the "normal" and the ornate, and once again showcases a facet to haute couture that doesn't necessarily tick the eveningwear box. The haughty attitudes of the busts of figures of Homer and Chopin are reinterpreted into cabochon embroidered dickies, worn unexpectedly with jeans. That segues into a birds of the night section where various found embroideries, and silks are collaged together meticulously. 

Sound of Music fans rejoice! You can make like Margiela and create clothes out of curtains, only if they happen to be Art Nouveau specimens made out of silk tulle. That ornate decadence slowly builds up to that Beijing opera coat, resplendent with sequined dragons and celestial swirls. The Margiela trope of using masks to veil identity crops up again here with cabochon and petal embroidered balaclavas, in homage to Leigh Bowery.

MMM also chose this particular Artisanal outing to debut their new partnership with Swarovski on a groundbreaking new material: Crystalacite, which fuses crystal with white resin without the use of glue. They were formed into stalagmite-esque clusters on cuffs, which clamped down the ornate robes and adorned the solid brown riding boots. Just another contrast which worked on the day.