Before departing London for another semester of university back in the States, I had a day or two to do those things I spent all summer saying would get done tomorrow. Pretty close to the top of the list was checking out the Maison Martin Margiela retrospective at Somerset House.
Looking at videos of runway shows and agonizing over which hand-constructed conceptual garment is most impressive is taxing work, and a bit of pre-game fuel was in order. Luckily, Tom Aikens stepped in and saved me from typical museum fare with a lovely slice of banana bread and a properly made macchiato (harder to find than you think) at the eco-friendly Tom’s Cafe. After filling my stomach I followed the Tabi boot footprints down to the basement, out the back door, possibly into another postcode, and into the special exhibition wing – maybe I should have saved the snack for after the trek.
Gastronomic adventure aside, the exhibition was interesting to say the least, and spectacular would not be too generous an adjective either. As the seasons go on I typically find myself less and less interesting in what designers are showing, but you can bet next fashion week I’ll be paying more attention. The exhibition, in addition to showcasing the miraculous array of unique garments Maison Martin Margiela have produced over the last 20 years, readily displays what can be done when making a statement and creating a work of art takes priority over sales at Selfridges. Not to knock any other designers or brands, but what Margiela is doing felt more like Couture to me than anything else; from sculpted shoulders to garments covered in paint that devolve and change with wear, there was an intense focus on changing the aesthetic base of the human form that I found really engaging.
After spending the summer continuing my exploration of all that is Savile Row and it’s cadre of lifestyle companions, the white hall-of-mirrors that was Maison Martin Margiela’s retrospective was a wake-up call to always keep my eyes open and looking for new inspiration and excitement in all aesthetic realms. Oh yeah, and it also reminded me that I really want that peacoat they made a few years ago – proportional perfection. Which lesson is a better one I’m not quite sure of yet.
Maison Martin Margiela ’20’ Continues at Somerset House until 5 September.