So the invisible man has really disappeared this time. According to industry sources, Martin Margiela, a fashion designer more reclusive than Greta Garbo or JD Salinger, has finally left the building – at Maison Martin Margiela, at least. It seems somehow appropriate for such a low-key designer, whose collection's labels are famously blank, to enact the ultimate disappearing act and become the latest in a long list of designers to quit their eponymous label, losing the rights to their own name.
Margiela is something of a mysterious figure in the egotistical and PR-driven fashion business. The designer came out of the explosion of emerging Belgian talent in the late '80s, and worked for many years with Jean Paul Gaultier, before launching his own label in 1989. He quickly gained attention and critical acclaim for his avant-garde experiments in re-imagining clothing, deconstructing and reconstucting garments with chicly minimalist, and often surreal, results. Beloved by fashionistas, MMM clothes are regarded as the ultimate in intellectual style; he is the thinking woman's designer. Notoriously camera-shy, Margiela has never taken a catwalk bow and rarely grants interviews. Until a photograph was published in a New York Times article last year, the public had never seen his face.
Last year it was rumoured that the designer had wanted to pass his label to Raf Simons (creative director at Jil Sander), who allegedly declined his offer. More recently, Columbian-born, Belgian-trained, former Ruffo Research designer Haider Ackermann was thought to be taking over the reins. But this weekend, Diesel owner Renzo Rosso, who bought a majority stake in Maison Martin Margiela seven years ago, told industry news service WGSN that he intends to look to the future with fresh design talent. 'Martin has not been there for a long time,' confirmed Russo. 'He is here but not here. We have a new fresh design team on board. We are focusing on young, realistic energy for the future; this is really Margiela for the year 2015.'
Maison Martin Margiela celebrates it's 20th anniversary this year.