At the Hotel Salomon de Rothschild, one of the grander show venues in Paris, the original lacquered wooden parquet floor had been entirely covered – including the walls and benches - with cheap vinyl which had been printed with the very same original parquet floor. Ta-dah!
Yes, it was the Margiela show, where nothing is ever quite what it seems. This is where sleeves are stitched into jacket pockets (the model, arms bare, clasped her hands behind her back). Where unfinished seams on a deconstructed kimono hang in fluttering panels that trail on the floor. And where jackets and coats grow collars so high that only the models’ eyes can be seen peering over the top of them.
As the show notes put it: ‘The shapes and construction of each piece of clothing derives from a specific gesture: attitudes such as ‘over the shoulder’, ‘hands in pockets’ and ‘stand-up collar’ inspire new, oversized volumes.’
But for every eccentric piece, there was another that was as polished as it was wearable. The humble white shirt reinterpreted here in strips of Scotch Guard tape, also appeared in ‘evening dressy’ slithering silks. The polo neck and trouser combo in off-white leather also came in more practical dark camel corduroy. Yes, there were one-legged trousers, but there were many more that came with two legs.
When Martin Margiela left his label in 2008, it was widely assumed that the label would collapse without its founder, the world’s most enigmatic designer. (He always refused to be photographed and maintained such a low profile that nobody in the industry ever saw him). But today, the brand which is owned by the Italian fashion entrepreneur Renzo Rosso, and designed by a studio team, goes from strength to strength, striking just the right creative-commercial, conceptual-cool balance.