TBT: Margiela’s Hermès Years

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It’s funny that Martin Margiela‘s tenure at Hermès suddenly appeared on everybody’s lips after this year’s exhibition at Antwerp’s MoMu It took nearly two decades for the fashion industry to wholeheartedly appreciate the Belgian visionary’s contribution at the maison, that’s probably most associated with very-rich-women kind of ‘luxury’. At his eponymous label, Maison Martin Margiela, the famously anonymous designer used to redefine such terms as ‘avant-garde’ and ‘minimalist’ in one single garment – meanwhile at Hermès, it was a different philosophy. Tranquil, understated and low-key – that’s how the guests of his shows at Rue Saint-Honoré flagship store (12 in overall, between 1998 and 2002) described the atmosphere. So were the clothes, kept mostly in black, beige or navy. Fashion tends to forget its references, and as you can clearly see in images below, it wasn’t Phoebe Philo at Céline, Christophe Lemaire (he designed for Hermès before the current creative director, Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski) or The Row who were first to decide on making a perfectly tailored camel coat the focus of their collections.

For Margiela, ready-to-wear with a Hermès tag had to be of the best quality materials, made with the biggest attention to details (no flashy embroideries meant here) and with the aim to be worn for the next 20 years. This is what actual ‘luxury’ in fashion meant to Martin, even though he would never use that stabby and deprived of its meaning word. For a brief moment, Hermès was more than fancy foulards and bags (note: for spring-summer 2000, Margiela casted Jane Birkin as the show’s model, making a nod to, guess what, the Birkin bag). It was about the clothes, too, and very well constructed clothes: warm cashmere sweaters, crisp white shirts, masculine blazers, eternally chic black gowns. And sneakers – remember, we’re speaking of 90s / beginning of 00s, when only stilettos mattered on Parisian catwalks. There’s no surprise his shows weren’t received that well. Many thought that Hermès was just ‘boring’ with Martin’s conservative approach: those were the 90s, after all, and fashion loved FASHION. The time has shown, however, that those who bought Margiela’s Hèrmes were the smart ones. Finding pieces from that era is quite a struggle, and when you find anything, the prices are killer. Martin Margiela is an acclaimed designer for more than one reason, but his underrated creative direction and aesthetic at Hermès is… timeless.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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Mr. Jeanloup Sieff

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In honour of the World Photo Day, here’s a post devoted to one of the most intriquing image makers – and one of my all-time favourites – Jeanloup Sieff. Born in Paris, Jeanloup Sieff received a camera for his 14th birthday and since that moment he had a passionate love affair with it. Throughout his career, he introduced an innovative feel of eroticism to fashion photography that traditionally used to represent stiff, ice-cold models. In his hands, the camera adored the sitters and vice versa, making the shoot feel like more like a flirt. Often emphasizing a specific area of the body – mostly backs and bottoms – Jeanloup Sieff believed that ‘sometimes, the face is not interesting when the body is. Sometimes the face is a distraction.

With his wide-angle black and white images, the French photographer caught the dramatic potential of light and shadow while he often added a touch of humour to his pictures, playing with situations and his, lets not hide the fact, sexy sitters. Obsessed by women like Françoise Hardy or Mia Farrow, Jeanloup Sieff also captured one of fashion photography’s most legendary male nude – the controversial image of Yves Saint Laurent in 1971, for his perfume Y. Also, one can’t forget the couple-shot of Jane and Serge, the up-to-now epytome of French love.

 

Céline Blankets

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Phoebe Philo knows the art of laid-back like no other. And her autumn-winter 2017 collection for Céline proves that with a piece you surely haven’t predicted to become the new style trick. I’m speaking of the ultra-big blankets, that have a thing or two to say. Philo took her cue from a pub menu, emblazoning those fleecy, fringed shawls with ‘Beef Stew’, ‘Sticky Toffee Pudding’ and ‘Bangers and Mash’. Just imagine, how these heartfelt blankets might warm you up on a breezy day in the countryside this autumn (while eating one of Phoebe’s favourite dishes, I guess).

All collages by Edward Kanarecki.

Charlotte Gainsbourg in Saint Laurent

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Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent is many good things at a time. The autumn-winter 2017 collection is fire. Those 8,000 euro boots are a BIG deal. But Charlotte Gainsbourg (the musician / actress I adore) starring in the brand’s new season campaign is a gift to the world. That haircut! Those shoulder-pads! Velvet! Rhinestones! Photographed by Collier Schorr.