Dear Martin Margiela,
I have never been a “fan” of your work as much as a deep admirer. If I were to sum up my personal style in a few words it would be classy, sexy, glamour, and your pieces could easily be called the antithesis of that. However to me, you were a designer in the original sense of the word. You found inspiration where there often was none to be seen, in dusty old wigs and tarnished canvases. You bought new meaning to the word deconstruction, revolting against the luxury machine that turned out loud, flashy pieces destined for socialites and celebutantes. You didn’t need to take a grand bow after each show, communicating with the press only via fax or email. You didn’t even need a logo, identifying your garments only with a non-descript white tag and number. Perhaps you abruptly left your label to escape the fluorescent glare of the fashion industry, to live your life free from its gaze. You had been dubbed “Fashion’s Invisible Man” and maybe your clothes were always for people who wanted to remain invisible in a way, not those that longed be part of the crowd.
The influence of your art has reappeared in subtle ways in the collections of many designers, then that impact trickled down to mass retail. Distressed denim, exaggerated shoulders, frayed, unfinished seams, and clashing prints and materials all owe a debt to you. Your runway shows were at times humorous and horrifying, and above all, made us wonder why. When the owners of your namesake brand decide to enter such a widely commercial venture as this collaboration with H&M, there is no way it can do justice to what you created. Of course labels like Versace, Roberto Cavalli and Jimmy Choo can succeed with these collections, as the core of their brand can transcend luxury production and be appropriated for wider distribution. But this MMM x H&M collection lacks the insight and intellectual capacity that made your work intriguing. The “circle shirt” and “horizontal dresses” hold no weight to the outrageous shapes you cut from fabric yet made stand like concrete walls. The silver leggings are just hallow shell of the mirrored tights you did for your 20th anniversary show that could almost double as armor.
On Friday fashion lovers all over the world will revel in wearing clothes that they think you had a hand in creating and by next year the pieces will be turned into Halloween costumes or thrown away. The crowds will then wait for the next big name joining forces with a high-street brand, so they can stock up on clothes that to them are just trendy. Ironic enough, as you saw beauty in what had been cast aside before fashion became almost synonymous with disposable. I would love to one day see what you would do with the pounds of clothing being discarded every day.