Martin Margiela makes his debut as an artist
Cult designer Martin Margiela opens exhibition in Paris.

If you are going to Paris in the next few months, you should pay a visit to Lafayette Anticipations and the first solo exhibition by Belgian fashion legend Martin Margiela. Martin Margiela opened on October 20 and will run until January 2, 2022.

Fashion's most secretive designer withdrew from the industry in 2008. Now he's back - as an artist.
The exhibition focuses on 'seeing the important in the banal' - as curator Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel stated to Artnet.

The show features over 40 new works; such as installations, sculptures, collages, paintings and film. Everything except clothes, you could almost say.
Margiela art debut
‘Vanitas’, by Martin Margiela, 2019. Source: Zeno X Gallery.
The exhibition is a total work of art, and the pieces are very much about transformation - like human hair in different stages of life, stills from photo development processes, or full-scale bus shelters dressed in faux fur. You should be able to move through the exhibition as in a sort of maze, a 'trip through Margiela's head', as the museum refers to it.

Lafayette Anticipations writes that the exhibition presents the hypothesis that Margiela has always been an artist; one who worked and challenged the fashion industry from within.
Margiela himself describes the shift as necessary, and writes in a statement:

-I became obsessed with fashion very early in life, and developed my own vision by presenting it in the most conceptual way possible.

-Now I need to explore other medium, to enjoy creating without limitations.

He is also making his debut in a gallery setting - and this weekend he was introduced to a discerning audience at the FIAC art fair in Paris, gaining massive attention.
Margiela art debut
‘Torso’, series by Martin Margiela. Source: Zeno X Gallery.
Through unique displays, innovative design techniques and an artistic approach to the subject of fashion, Margiela revolutionized fashion in the 80s and 90s. His Tibi shoes and deconstructed garments are timeless classics, and the vision behind the raw, uncompromising design aesthetics helped lifting the craft of fashion into the realm of art.

-I do not think it is very surprising, says Anne Karine Thorbjørnsen.
The critically acclaimed clothing designer is an outspoken Margiela fan and has also moved towards art in recent years with exhibitions at, among others, Salgshallen in Oslo.

-I really recognize Margiela in the pictures from the exhibition - his grip, structures, use of color and theme, she says.

-It feels like a continuation, only that there are no clothes on the body, and this time it’s all outside the fashion system.
The designer himself experienced the demands from the fashion world as an obstacle to his own work. He has deliberately chosen to call his work practice, rather than a brand, precisely in order to be able to freely experiment between fields.

Margiela art debut
From Anne Karine Thorbjørnsen's last exhibition at the Sales Hall. Photo: Tove Sivertsen
-For me, it became a tighter and tighter room to be in. As soon as things go well, things will grow, become more and more like business. It was never what I wanted. I want to stand on the outside, I oppose.

And Martin Margiela has always been an inspiration.

-He has always been anti-fashion and different - thought outside the walls of the system. The work is so smart and intelligent. There is something sympathetic, not flashy, but almost friendly about it. It makes you think about what you take for granted, often things that are part of everyday life.
Unlike Margiela himself, Thorbjørnsen does not want to refer to herself only as an artist, and believes that there should be room to think several thoughts at once.

-I have not stopped using fashion, it is so embedded in me. I just want to see it in a different way.

March 22, 2022