Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

"For those who value unidentifiable, elegant dressing, Margiela's the man" so wrote Sarah Mower in her review of the AW06 Maison Martin Margiela collection on Style.com. Six years on, and the secret's out. I am in New York, as a guest of H&M, to preview the collection and attend tonight's launch which promises to be quite an incredible party. What is perhaps most striking about the collection is the way that the Maison Martin Margiela (MMM) team have picked through their archives to choose 100 pieces (60 women's and 40 men's) which do the job of making the unidentifiable, identifiable. Images of these pieces will be all over the internet, on TV, in shop windows and will likely end up being worn by the huge numbers of fashion fans who will flock to buy the collection when it launches on November 15th.  This is a whole new level of designer collaboration for H&M, who are bringing a much-loved but nevertheless niche fashion name to the masses.

Nothing in the collection is new, but is a "re-edition"of an original MMM design. A member of MMM- anyone who works for the brand remains anonymous- told me today that "we looked through the archives to see what would be the most iconic pieces. It was about what resonated with the team". The H&M collaboration pieces don't come with the signature four white, tack stitches which usually denote an MMM design, instead a giant white label is fastened to each one which explains a description of the garment and a reference to the season in which it was originally seen. The MMM team assured me that all the patterns are identical to those of the originals, all that changes for the H&M range are the fabrics and the production process. There is a leather jacket in the men's collection, for example, based on a design originally constructed by hand stitching together belts. It's become a hugely popular coat- "it gets requested all the time"- which has now been made democratic via the H&M collection.

SS05: Chloe Sevigny wears horizontal top and skirt of which there is a dress version
in the H&M collaboration
I put it to the MMM team that long time, insider fans could be a little put out that the world is now in on their secret. "We actually see it as beneficial for those who are collectors of Margiela, because there's nothing new it's kind of like a retrospective so anyone who is loyal to the brand but missed out the first time can own pieces right from the first 1989 collection now." They added that "the Maison's philosophy is about being collective and collaborative so this is very much in line with our spirit." An added component to MMM which I think could easily be forgotten in the hype of a new collection launch, is the focus on education- the team think of their creations as more than clothes. Their modus operandi to make us reevaluate the function or look of something. For instance, there is a very cool women's leather biker jacket in the collection which was originally made from disassembling a man's leather jacket and putting it back together with a tighter, more feminine silhouette whilst retaining the excess fabric to remind the wearer of its origins- "it's about re-translating" says MMM.

Reconstructed man to woman biker
The beauty of this collaboration is that we can buy into it because we love the shiny clutch bag/ great knee boots/ big knit etc. and that would be just fine. But what it also brings for the first time to a high street/ designer line is that sense of intellectual, highly creative fashion which is about experimenting and boundary pushing and exploring meaning in what we wear. Welcome to Margiela's world.


The Red Wedges

Backstage at SS07

Plexiglass heels in Margiela with H&M
The Duvet Coat

AW99-00 Maison Martin Margiela

Bill Cunningham's page in the New York Times devoted to the duvet coat

And now it's back for Margiela with H&M

The Circle Shirt

The Circle Shirt from SS02

.... now reprised for 2012
Trompe L'Oeil tattoo top

Tattoo print from Margiela's first collection for SS 1989
Revived in thicker fabric for today

All images by Fashion Junior at Large and from Maison Martin Margiela, the book. 


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