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When Martin Margiela started his eponymous line in the late ’80s, he shocked the fashion world with his iconoclastic vision. An identical shock occurred in the fashion world in 1997 when he was chosen to be the artistic director of Hermès’ women’s ready-to-wear collection. With a history stretching back 150 years, Hermès was known for its more traditional outlook. Many people predicted that Hermès’ conservative style could not mesh with Margiela’s offbeat ethos, and that Margiela’s influence would wane.

Instead, what followed was a resurgence of the iconic Parisian house. Rather than merely applying his deconstructivist philosophy to Hermès’ designs, Margiela added his insight into how to design for women. Until he left in 2003, his collections showcased his belief in designing to maximize ease, comfort, quality and timelessness.

Now an exhibition celebrating Martin Margiela’s years at Hermès is open in Antwerp, Belgium—the city in which Margiela honed his skills as a designer at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Accompanying the exhibition is a book, aptly titled Margiela: The Hermès Years, in which key figures throughout Margiela’s career, including Suzy Menkes, Patrick Scallon and Jenny Meirens, discuss his time at Hermès. In the book, when touching on the enigma that is Margiela, Olivier Zahm says, “His poetry is unpredictable, never artificial and over the top or extravagant, but instead his work delves into the nature of elegance, comfort, and what it means to be a woman.”

The exhibition Margiela: The Hermès Years is on display until August 27, 2017.

Mode Museum Antwerp
Nationalestraat 28
2000 Antwerp

The book Margiela, The Hermès Years is available now, published by Lannoo.

The book Margiela, The Hermès Years is available now, published by Lannoo.

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