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Emma Elwin

Notes from a Swedish stylist


A couple of weeks ago we visited Artipelag for the ‘Margiela, the Hermès Years’ exhibit. This is what I learned: Between 1997 and 2003, Martin Margiela was employed by Jean-Louis Dumas, then CEO of Hermès, to lead the work of the French fashion house’s ready-to-wear collections for women. The collaboration proved to be one of fashion’s most exciting, and is now presented in this exhibition.

Martin Margiela started his own fashion house Maison Martin Margiela in 1988. The mysterious designer soon appeared to be the actual antithesis of a classic celebrity designer.

Comfort, timelessness, sensuality, and authenticity are keywords that characterize Margiela’s vision of the Hermès woman.

Some thought that the collaboration between Margiela and Hermès was unexpected, but Margiela proved to be a masterful interpreter of the Hermès DNA. His starting point was the natural and confident woman, rather than the eternal ideal of the world of fashion. Margiela dressed the models in genuine materials, with the classic sewing art to articulate the individual style. The result became an exciting hybrid between Margiela’s iconoclasm and Hermès’ timeless quality.

My favorite part of the exhibit was the remake garments; this sweater is made of knitted socks and the top is made from gloves. 

The ‘Margiela, the Hermès Years’ exhibition was created in 2017 by curator Kaat Debo and Martin Margiela of MoMu (fashion museum Antwerp). Creations from Martin Margiela’s own brand are presented in dialogue with the work he performed for Hermès. The exhibition includes more than one hundred outfits, photographs and short films in a context where Hermès’ typical color orange interacts with Maison Martin Margiela’s white. In this way, the creative process that seamlessly navigates between the two fashion houses and their respective identities is explained.

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