Designer Martin Margiela, King of Deconstruction in the fashion world, became the Creative Director at Hermès in April 1997. Quality and comfort were two key elements in his designs and while most of the designers in the 90s focused on Avant Garde, Martin chose to go in the direction of a timeless wardrobe without bright bold colors or patterns.
What I found to be the most interesting part of Margiela as a designer was his choice of using models that ranged from 25-65 years old. He believed that you could wear fashion at any age and his Collections with Hermès clearly reflected these ideas and values.
Simplicity and understated luxury were some of his other attributes as a designer and you can undoubtedly see that each piece is beautifully constructed and timeless. Today, you can still see people walking in the streets of Paris wearing some of the very same iconic pieces. Less is more and the Parisien women have mastered the look.
Margiela liked to work with interesting Oversleeve Coats where you could create a Cape look with a vertical slit under the arms. In essence, you could have two looks with one coat.
One of his most interesting pieces to date was the White Duvet coat circa 1999 that is currently selling on eBay for more than $10,000 dollars. In the winter of 1999/2000, these coats were flying off the shelves and the NY Times decided to write an article about the popularity of this coat in the streets of Manhattan.
Evening wear was later added to his collection at Hermès where he introduced the Overskirt “Sur-jupes” and ankle length sweaters in cashmere and silk. The look was classic and flattering to any body type.
The Duffle Coat with its distinctive buckles and capuche from the 2001 Collection can be seen worn today with its large square pockets.
If we are to remember anything from Margiela’s contributions to Hermès, it is to recognize that simple clothes well made are just as innovative and creative as Avant Garde pieces.
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