As we talked about in our prior post, we are doing a two-part series on the Martin Margiela exhibitions that are currently up in Paris! While the exhibition that Anita covered last week, Margiela / Galliera, 1989-2009 at Palais Galliera, focused exclusively on collections made for Maison Margiela, this one was a little different. Titled Margiela, Les Années Hermès and housed at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, this exhibition shed light on Martin Margiela’s contributions to Hermès from 1997-2003. We really took our time going through this exhibition, really talking through the make and aesthetic impact that each design had on us. It was such a great time to hang out together and look at some truly amazing and inspiring work.
In 1997, when Martin Margiela joined Hermès, he was already regarded as one of the leading figures and avant-garde designers in the fashion world; it was a bold choice for the classic Parisian label. Margiela went on to create Women’s ready-to wear collections that would break away from the brand’s established colorful palette, instead making “comfort, timelessness, sensuality and authenticity,” its main goals. To show how Margiela’s designs for Maison Margiela both differed and were in dialogue with the Hermès collections, the exhibition paired various designs, chronological and/or mutually influential, in through curation that created contrasts: the displayed Hermès designs were placed under warm lights and in front of orange walls, while the
Maison Margiela designs were against stark, white walls and light. Placed with each other, it was really cool for us to explore how designs for both labels could both be attributed to the same person– it was insane to think about the incredible range in skill and artistry that Margiela has, and how subtle (but obvious) the continuity was. We both had different reactions, but loved bouncing ideas off of each other as we took our time in the exhibition; we had an amazing time picking each others’ brains about our opinions on fashion, artistry, and the exhibition itself.
Anita: After visiting exhibit on Margiela, I was intrigued to learn more about how his years at the luxury fashion house, Hermès. My 3 biggest takeaways from this exhibition were; Margiela’s respect and appreciation of the female form, his passion for tailoring and the timelessness of his designs and concepts during his Hermès years. It was amazing to see the contrast in the work Margiela was doing for his own brand and for the Hermès collection simultaneously.
At the time, I’m sure people would have expected Margiela to do something “crazy” like change the iconic Hermès orange color, or turn one of their signature purses inside out, but what he was able to achieve was even better. You see how he was able to bring his vision and his passion for things like tailoring and innovative silhouettes, and adapt that to the Hermès woman. None of the designs looked outdated, and paid extra attention to the desires of women to be comfortable and unrestricted while also looking good.
Martina: I had a very interesting, exciting, and novel experience coming to this exhibition. I’d known about the Musée des Arts Décoratifs for a while, and had been dying to visit it since I was a junior in high school. Aside from it being my first time inside this beautiful museum, it was also my first time at an exhibition that dealt with fashion in a similar way to art. I love seeing fashion elevated in this way– to see the research, time and effort put into exhibiting it.
This exhibition definitely met my expectations in that sense, and I also had a wonderful time being in dialogue with Anita during the two hours that we spent there. While I was approaching the exhibition from a very art-minded angle (thinking about form and interplays with the body, the use of orange on the walls, the lighting, etc.) she was giving a lot of thought to the tailoring, to the interesting duality in Margiela’s contemporaneous designs, and told me a lot about Margiela that I didn’t know, and that really helped guide me through.
Authors: Martina and Anita