How many cups of coffee does the Maison drink? What do they get in the post? Everything you've ever wanted to know about the elusive fashion house but never thought to ask
To celebrate their new SS15 collection showing in Paris, we teamed up with Maison Martin Margiela to bring you an intriguing insight into the daily happenings that occur within the whitewashed walls of their HQ. Here, we attempt to decode the playfully obscure films, but don’t take our suggestions too seriously – it’s the mystery that makes the Maison.
On the rooftop of Margiela's headquarters in Paris's 11th arrondissement, overlooking the Catholic Church of Saint-Joseph des Nations, a mysterious, Margiela-lab-coated arm paints a chair. Naturally, white is the colour of choice. One wonders what other strange sights church goers might catch a glimpse of going on next door, where the building's inhabitants follow an altogether different set of commandments.
In Meeting, anonymous figures conduct experiments, dropping tablets into water and marking down the results with a scientific eye (the house's emphasis on the unity of the collective doesn't extend to pen choice though – "People write in whichever colour they prefer," informs the Maison). The Artisanal masks worn in the film caused quite a stir when Dazed took them out on the streets of Dalston, but at the Maison, it's just a regular day at the office.
This season at MM6, the house sent reworked versions of its staffer robe down the runway. In this film, members of the Maison (wearing coats of their very own, of course) open mysterious mail, containing photographs with hands curled into the number six. Where did these images come from? Judging by the stamps, all over the place.
Of course, creating boundary-pushing fashion is hungry work. But you didn't expect Margiela's kitchen to be like any other, did you? Instead, plates stretch across an entire wall, all precisely spaced. Where did they get so many perfectly uniform pieces of crockery? "At the plate store.
" Where else?
Unlike the plates, the coffee cups at the Maison aren’t displayed on the walls. They won’t give too much insight into their caffeine consumption however, offering only an algebraic equation.
"M = the number of people at the Maison.
3 = the average cups of coffee consumed by each person at the Maison per day.
So… (Mx3) x 5 days a week.”
But does everyone have to drink from plastic cups? “Only those too lazy to do their dishes.”
The receptionist at MMM HQ sits behind an eerily out of place supermarket checkout, her computer screen covered in a soft muslin fabric. Bright lights and mirror balls adorn the ceilings, but a mesh-clad chandelier is the stand out piece. When asked how on earth you would change the light bulbs, the Maison replied, “No one has ever been seen changing them”.
Maneki-Nekos, or waving cats, are traditionally made in bright colours and garish gold and silver. But of course, the Maison managed to locate a rare rendition in white. Actually, they don’t really know where it came from – “From time to time, the Maison receives gifts from anonymous benefactors. When we receive something, it becomes part of our office environment – placed on a desk or a shelf somewhere for passers-by to observe. We ask no questions about the gift or its provenance.”
Whilst the Maison itself and the team housed within it are whitewashed with lab coats and muslin fabrics, the collections that come out of it are anything but bland. Last season luxurious black leather boots and quirky metallic red and green pumps were the footwear of choice, but these gold spangled, two toed Tabi boots from the SS14 Artisanal collection are equally eye-catching.