Margiela: The Hermès Years

When I heard there was going to be an exhibition at the MoMu Fashion Museum in Antwerp showcasing Martin Margiela's collections from his time at Hermes (1997-2003), and a book was going to accompany it, I couldn't wait to purchase Margiela: The Hermès Years. Prior to opening it, I knew it would be my favorite fashion book to date.

I discovered Maison Martin Margiela at a fairly young age, and I remember purchasing my first Margiela piece (a trench coat) back in high school. Over the years I've continued to collect old and new Margiela pieces — most recently a vintage equestrian wool blazer in London that I believe was inspired by Martin's time at Hermès. 

Hermès Spring/Summer 2004. Photo by Marina Faust

Hermès Spring/Summer 2004. Photo by Marina Faust

Martin Margiela's tenure as creative director at Hermès was truly remarkable. Predating social media, his designs were not so easy to find online (shoutout to The Fashion Spot), but I've always loved referencing his collections for inspiration because it speaks so true to my personal style.

There's a duality to my style that comes from a combination of 90s minimalism and a love for all things progressive, so it's safe to say Maison Margiela x Hermès is my dream team collaboration. 

Hermès Spring/Summer 2000. 

Hermès Spring/Summer 2000. 

How would Margiela deconstruct the classics of Hermès — its famous hue of orange, the Kelly bag, and patterned carré silk scarves? They were having fantasies of Martin cutting the Kelly in two,
— Kaat Debo, curator of the Margiela: The Hermès Years exhibition
Hermès Fall/Winter 1999 ad campaign. Photo by Thierry Le Goues

Hermès Fall/Winter 1999 ad campaign. Photo by Thierry Le Goues

Margiela's brilliance at Hermès was so refined, yet rich in new concepts. Best known for his deconstruction and recovery of second-hand materials, he applied that concept by designing a timeless and slowly evolving wardrobe that was innovative in a way that best suited the Hermès customer. Think: quality garments being made to be worn two or three different ways, so you less easily grow tired of your wardrobe.  

left, Hermès Spring/Summer 1999; right, Maison Martin Margiela Spring/Summer 2009. Photo by Studio des Fleurs and Giovanni Giannoni

left, Hermès Spring/Summer 1999; right, Maison Martin Margiela Spring/Summer 2009. Photo by Studio des Fleurs and Giovanni Giannoni

At the Maison the strategies were much more experimental, avant-garde, risque — the Margiela woman was also a different kind of woman, who dares to wear these ideas. Whereas the Hermès woman appreciates the comfort and quality.
— Kaat Debo
left, Maison Martin Margiela Spring/Summer 1989; right, Hermès Fall/Winter 1999

left, Maison Martin Margiela Spring/Summer 1989; right, Hermès Fall/Winter 1999

Staying true to his Margiela ways, he shied away from colors and patterns, or by designing curated collections. He was most inspired by 1920s sportswear and leisurewear, and his love of tailored trousers, outerwear and white blouses. Looking back at his collections now they feel contemporary, but always relevant with the perfect mix of classic, French and chic (something most designer's struggle with today).

Fact: The Margiela x Hermès years will be the forefront of my Fall 17 inspiration. 

— BK