Written by Pau Avia

Photography Alice Rosati

There are few things today beyond the human control. Just a few things are those who remain inside the drawer where we often slip our hand dreaming about diving in it, if only for a moment. It doesn’t matter how much we try to open it with the purpose of exploring its mysteries, the logic kept inside this drawer escapes from every other theory, almost in the same way that the logic kept inside at 163, Rue St.Maur. A place where we find, behind the wooden gate, the current headquarters of Maison Martin Margiela, a building with its own life.

In the sphere of fashion, and more specifically in the field related to the brand creation, when we refer to time we don’t distinguish heavyweights of fashion from pre-pubertal designers with a budget to squeeze. Time can be a best friend or turn into the worst nightmare; time governs and orders in present, past and future tense.

As in the life of an ordinary person, inside a brand many agents survey its evolution constantly paying no heed on evolution itself and the powerful meaning of power and knowledge.  Aging brings more good than bad and this is exactly the maxim we should pursue. Inside the drawer we mention before every designer finds the hope, and sometimes the strength, for achieving the consolidation of the features that will make him different from the other. The goal is to attain the difference in a time where the big companies friendly close to mass market become allies looking for the perfect capsule collection or lobbying in the hardest way.

Looking closely under these words, it’s easy to realize that logic things get on well with the obviousness, and it’s precisely this petty nuance which has always been dodged by Martin Margiela himself, someone who fought for the restructuring and mutation of the platitude.  At present, the fashion house stills fighting against rationalistic thoughts while growing apart from those people clutched to better times without bearing in mind that Maison Martin Margiela has developed and even has known how to change and adapt itself to a new century and millennium deeply trapped in fleetingness. Today we are, tomorrow we don’t know.

In the creative studio, as in many other brands, collections follow one another virtually like the minutes in an hour. We can just count on three months between collection and collection, it’s not anymore enough with the ready-to-wear or couture, now other factors as furnishings and decoration (Line 13), perfumes (‘Untitled’, Line 3) and the expansion or cultural projects like the last Art Basel Miami “Love” exhibit come to light and time is of the essence.

Twenty years have passed since Martin gave birth to the first collection in the very well-known Café de la Gare at 4’30 p.m., 23rd of October 1988. Now everybody knows the business move along devoid of father figure but having a young engine focused on continuing with the savoir-faire of the designer.

‘Martin knew very well how to entrust people step by step while the transition’ fairly recently ensured Margiela’s CEO. This is something that comes to revalue knowing the perfect and organized current internal structure.

The team remains faithful to deconstructivism, Antwerpian fashion aesthetics and occasionally to the influence of some Japanese designers coeval with the never-seen designer like Rei Kawakubo, a bona fide pioneer of a new style landed in Paris at the turn of the eighties. It is a group of people that many hear but just a few recognize, well greased. A group that manages to keep that mysterious nimbus surrounding each presentation, as much needed as anonymity, the characteristic crossed out eyes or the ignorance of the individual favoring the power of first-person-plural.

As the family grew up, as the white moved away from unacquaintance and give way to the recognition other tree branches sprout and contrary to the Genesis creation order, from the rib of the women was made the man. In 1998 was presented the first menswear collection. In the same way, handmade garments, those ones requiring hours of work and exhaustion, found also their hollow. We are talking about the always there Artisanal line which at present faces new horizons ahead. ‘I try to focus on scouting and recovery, as Martin did. Me and my team try to make balance between all those pieces made in an industrial way and the ones we made by hand in the atelier. We’ve always been there since the beginning. Martin himself worked on fabrics that no one dare to do, he submitted them to the control of his hands and now we follow his craftsmanship’, says present day’s responsible for the line.

In 2002 Diesel Group procured the brand. This sorption – that has endowed the creative team with an Avant Premiere collection, a Premiere, a ‘Défilé’ collection and besides the sole presentation of the Artisanal line during the couture week in January and July respectively – tightened the ropes and ruled a new structure to follow in the future-to-be and in the enlargement of the company.

Over the course of the last ten years many things have changed, the 2009 spring summer fashion show was entitled “Les Vingt Ans” (Twenty years) it was consider as the period in grammar with a big semantic difference in the next sentence: Martin was leaving. The next collection was entitled ‘Morphine’…

Replacing shortages was not big deal, for this purpose the house found new ways of communicating and stabilizing a customer known for being a collector. Some collections like the 2011 spring/summer – conceived in relation with just two dimensions and able to disallow the 3rd one: the profundity – were the ones who quieted some people down changing their minds between the period and the paragraph. The story was going on.

‘Ages’ title of this issue talks unavoidably about time, an essential key for the passing years that have been perfectly represented by a big department in the maison. The Interior Design could be considered as the fashion house quintessence. It is this team who recently has been in charge of transforming the Hôtel de la Maison Champs Elysées, located in the eighth district of the city of lights. An space where the brand mirror itself under the concept of impermanence, where the picture frames disappeared leaving traces on the white walls like if the centuries were passed on, where the unfinished molding decorates the suites or even where the light eloping from an imaginary ajar door shed light on the narrow corridors.

Chris Dercon, current director of the Tate Modern in London, knew how to faultlessly unravel what for Martin himself was the white color. In one sentence he said: “ The power of fragility of passing time”. Today we take it as motto, we can’t make bricks without straw so that’s the reason why we ought to understand that white is a color remote from anonymity where “passing time leaves traces on white walls” like in the hotel, like in every single nook of that ancient school from the 18thcentury later turned into an industrial design school, and in the end the Margiela headquarters. After all, the same trace that Martin left and printed in every people that works and has worked with him, people without a name behind the scenes.

By Pau Avia

15 de noviembre de 2015