One of fashion’s most enigmatic figures is staging his return. But not as a designer.
Following in the footsteps of the legendary Helmut Lang, the famously private Belgian designer Martin Margiela is forgoing fashion for fine art. In 2009, Margiela departed from the eponymous label he founded in 1988 and has largely stayed off the radar ever since. However, he’s just announced he will stage an exhibition of his artwork at Paris’ Lafayette Anticipations gallery from April 15 to July 25 entitled Martin Margiela. The objects displayed will include a mix of photographs, sculptures and more never previously revealed to the public.
Margiela was always firmly in fashion’s avant-garde camp with close ties to art, so the move is a logical yet tricky transition to make, especially considering his rejection of the spotlight. Margiela’s quest for anonymity was so extreme that not only did he never take the standard bow at the end of his runway shows, but photographers had to camp in secret outside of the Margiela offices while he was still its creative director to get a picture of him as none had been publicly released in decades.
With the exception of his participation in an exhibition on his work at Hermès (where he was creative director from 1997 to 2003) and a documentary, Martin Margiela: In His Own Words, he’s rarely been spotted. “He was sick of the system of having to do so many collections a year,” Reiner Holzemer, that documentary’s director told The Guardian. “After he left, he suffered physically and it took him a year to recover from the stress.”
It was those two projects which triggered renewed interest in Margiela’s body of work and the question of whether or not he’d ever return to designing. Though he hinted at his interest in doing so in 2019, nothing concrete ever came of it. Whether or not he will return to fashion is a question only Margiela can answer, but this new exhibit should be plenty to tide his loyal fanbase over—for now.