At the end of last year, Maison Martin Margiela was afforded official haute couture status by the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and that’s quite something given the size of the house. It’s small but perfectly formed and yesterday’s offering was a jewel of a collection. Raf Simons was in pride of place front row – that’s an endorsement many a name would kill for just now; the house’s retired name sake is this designer’s fashion hero – and the MMM studio sent out clothes that were more celebratory and upbeat than they have been. That was lovely to see. The hallmark of this particular lline – and it was once the signature of Maison Martin Margiela across the board – is to seek out precious vintage finds and then fuse them with contemporary designs made in the atelier and, in the case of couture of course, entirely by hand.
It was beautifully done. The most delicate beaded flapper dress was entirely restored then joined with a trademark trench: absolute modernity and history met. A tunic was covered with black oil paint, stiffening the garment in question – the minimal end result belied the work that went into its creation. More paint strokes appeared – this time beaded again – on rectilinear 1920s-line clothing. A spokesperson for the house said that the decades referenced were the Twenties and Fifties, both post-war, then, and reflecting an optimism that was also very much in evidence here.
Masking models’ faces is something that Margiela himself introduced way back when, the idea being that encourages the focus to be entirely concentrated on the clothes. And they were well worth it. Highly imaginative and intricate handiwork and colour that truly sang rubbed shoulders in this instance with the all new and that is something that the haute couture, steeped in tradition as it necessarily must be, is rarely known for. The classic ‘tabi’ boot with its split toe was, for spring/summer, platform-soled, a tribute, our spokesperson says, to David Bowie circa Ziggy Stardust.