People that care about fashion will be sad to see this go. People that don’t care about fashion will remain confused.
Big news in the fashion world today, as Martin Margiela is officially announced as having left his eponymous design house after some twenty years at its head.
The enigmatic man behind the curtain has been all but gone in the last few years, and the absence was evident in the collections released under his name. The last couple seasons have felt a little “been there, done that,” which is a terrible impression to get from a house whose designs normally invoke feelings of “never been there, and why would we do that?” (In a good way, of course.)
More notable than the designer’s departure will be his absence, as the company will not be bringing in another designer in to helm the operation.
“It would have been very simple to hire someone else, and we evaluated that option, but in the end, what is important is the taste of designer,” [Margiela CEO Giovanni] Pungetti said Tuesday in an interview in Paris.
Instead, “the fashion house would continue to operate with the creative staff that its reclusive founder had developed over 20 years.”
With a founder like Martin Margiela, I understand the reluctance to bring in a new creative director. Margiela himself has been such a creative force that a distinctive departure from his style and vision will be seen as a fall from the space age, avantgarde pedestal the house currently sits upon. On the other hand, a new designer that tries to do more of the same will almost definitely be perceived as a lampoon or parody – or worse, incompetent – so better to avoid the conundrum entirely.
However, I have to wonder at the ability of the staff to maintain its course any better with no definite captain guiding the way. Is it going to be like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory under the direction of the Oompa Loompas?
I blame the house and its notable secrecy for forcing me to go with that metaphor. I blame only myself for carrying out the metaphor to its inevitable conclusion, and fantasizing about finding a golden ticket sewn in the lining of a pair of crazy flesh-toned space tights, taking a tour of the Maison, and watching as my comrades fall along the way (would someone try on a prototype suit and be consumed by the wildly distorted proportions, only to be rolled away by the lab coat-wearing team of oompa loom..I mean, faithful assistants?). At the end of my metaphor, I, Charlie Bucket, would be the last one left, and ownership of the fashion house would pass to me – where I would be left shocked and dumbfounded and probably ready to sell out to the highest bidder rather than make the mistake of trying to step in the sizable shoes of my predecessor.
I’m going to take a moment to put on my fashion clairvoyant hat – and while I won’t be predicting the shapes of clothing in the future like Margiela has done, I will attempt to suss out what’s to come for his company.
I don’t think this man likes his clairvoyant hat.
The house is already majority owned by the Diesel super-conglomerate, and stores have been popping up all over the world. There’s a fragrance in the works, and apparently, a “spa hotel,” whatever the hell that means. So here’s my prediction – they’ll keep churning out designs with less and less true originality, while simultaneously upping the “brand appeal” of the name. In ten years time, we’ll all be talking about Maison Martin Margiela, and a lot of us will probably be wearing it, but that’ll only be because million-dollar marketing teams have told us it’s the thing to do. Integrity will be sacrificed, profits will go through the roof, and Mister Margiela himself can live out his retirement however he wants to, because he was clever enough to use his powers as an invisible man to avoid media scrutiny. Everyone wins! Or, we all lose. What do you think?