July 24, 2013
N O V E L T Y / Finding the relevance of couture at Maison Martin Margiela
Haute Couture always felt like something very distant to me. Something that I'd only occasionally see presented on a dead plastic mannequin in a fashion exposition at a museum. Something that's only made for a small elite club from another era. Something that's so exclusive that it seems like it's taking place in a parallel universe to which we will never have access to. Though the reason why I love fashion so much is because it is so close to the body that it almost becomes a part of it, an extension of yourself, something that everyone must participates in and from which there is no escape. Haute Couture felt so untouchable and far away that I always regarded it more as art than as fashion. Basically I felt excluded and left out from it, not having a spare 10 grand to spend on a dress, not being a celebrity in need of a red carpet outfit and not having access to the intimate shows to see the garments in movement.
Attending the Maison Martin Margiela show forced me to think more about wether Haute Couture is still relevant in 2013. Yes we already know that it is about the detailing, the craftsmanship, the exclusivity, blablabla. But you never get to experience that by just seeing the collections through images, it just never comes through unless you see it in real life, in movement. I tell you, it is impressive.
I found how important Haute Couture can be for a house right now for many other reasons than selling clothes or having celebs wear garments (let's hope that Kanye never wears a Margiela mask again, to ironically, use it for its opposite purpose: getting attention instead of being anonymous). In The case of Maison Martin Margiela, who only have had couture collections for 3 seasons, it is a way to gain more freedom. Complete conceptual freedom, the design team gets to do whatever they want without thinking about sales or wearability. It's like going back to the core of the house. I have been told that some ideas that are too unwearable and get left out of the ready to wear lines are saved for the Couture shows. It is about showing what the maison is all about, what it is capable of, what techniques it can apply.
And as expected, Maison Martin Margiela broke all the rules of Haute Couture and send some worn down jeans down the runway. These were my favorite looks, paired with oversized collars and masks made out of large marble beads on bare skin. So simple yet so extravagant. Then there was the deconstructed and reconstructed vintage and antique garments; a 1950s prom dress, an Art Nouveau curtain and even some beadings from the Napoleon-era. Recuperating these vintage and antique pieces was such a respectful way to treat clothes, almost like an homage, making old clothes relevant again for the future. It could even be a statement from MMM connected to the relevance haute couture itself.