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Exclusive: an incredible Margiela documentary is coming

‘We Margiela’ is an illuminating look at the untold story of the enigmatic fashion house

Martin Margiela remains one of fashion’s biggest mysteries. The semi-anonymous, rarely-photographed designer is pretty much as far from our self-promoting social media era as you can get, and his total withdrawal from the industry after selling the label and later giving up his role at it makes his character seem almost mythical. Who was the man who, along with business partner Jenny Meirens, scorned supermodels to have friends walk the runway, who radically rethought familiar silhouettes, eschewed branding for a blank nametag and whose take on design has inspired everyone from Raf Simons to Demna Gvasalia? What was it like to work alongside him?

As Dazed can exclusively announce, a new documentary sets out to explore that final question. Called We Margiela, the film features those who were part of the designer’s collective – including Meirens herself, who talks about her and Martin’s desire to break all boundaries and go against the system of fashion. Many of those who were there in the label’s early days speak for the first time, opening up their personal collections (shelves of Tabi boots or carefully preserved stockman-inspired jackets, for instance) and telling their stories.

“During the development of the film, the story became very much the genesis of the house, its relevance and of course how it ended” – mint film office 

We walk the streets around the old design studio with Axel Keller, who worked in sales, are invited into the home of make-up artist Inge Grognard, and hear from Grace Fisher, a model for the house who met Margiela in a nightclub. As well as members of the design teams, there's even a moment with the women in his Italian factory, who recall the designer as a handsome young man, bursting with ideas. It's an emotive, illuminating look into the archives of those for whom Margiela wasn't just a brand, it was a vital chapter in their lives, and ultimately explores the conflict between creativity and commerciality which hastened the designer's exit.

Set for release later this year, the documentary is being made by the Rotterdam-based mint film office, who are also producing a book of the same title, full of the interviews and documents collected. To tide you over until then, you can sign up to receive a limited edition mailout – over the next three months, the company will post you three envelopes, all containing documents and photographs from the upcoming book, with all images taken during the filming and depicting the most special items from the Margiela archives.

“Our main interest was the whole notion of a shared creative process and group dynamics within creative communities,” says a spokesperson for mint film office. “It is something that we as a creative group of filmmakers have to deal with and also, around us we noticed that more and more, young and creative people were interested in working in groups more than striving for personal fame. Though we understand the longing to work in a group, we are wary about how much this is a romantic notion, an economic solution and whether a creative process can be democratic at all. 

“The house of Margiela is, of course, known for its ‘We’. They were a perfect group to ask all these questions. We knew they were always quite hidden, didn’t give any interviews, so we at the beginning didn’t suspect we would get into the group and story this far. During the development of the film, the story became very much the genesis of the house. Because there are so few films on the house it was obvious that our film would also become the story of the house of Margiela, its relevance and of course how it ended.” 

Raising questions of originality, authorship, and authenticity, We Margiela is a brilliant, intimate look at one of fashion’s most fabled houses. Visit their website here to find out more about the project, and sign up for the mailout for €23.