A top made from assembled vintage black gloves and a skirt made of assembled vintage skirts from ‘Artisanal’
A top made from assembled vintage black gloves and a skirt made of assembled vintage skirts from ‘Artisanal’

Martin Margiela’s iconic designs to go under the hammer

  • Martin Margiela’s imaginative designs from a privately curated collection are set be auctioned in an online auction by Sotheby’s
  • The designer often incorporated found objects in his designs, such as a vest made from old playing cards, which highlight his singular creativity

In the 2015 short film The Artist Is Absent, critic Suzy Menkes likens Belgian fashion designer Martin Margiela to Greta Garbo. “By not showing his identity, I think that Martin Margiela became more exciting," she says. Since the launch of his eponymous label in 1989, Margiela has famously never given interviews, never taken to the runway at the end of his shows and his photographs—only one or two circulating online—have never been verified. As British journalist Susannah Frankel said, Margiela is “fashion’s invisible superstar".

A coat made from a grey wool jacket from Spring/Summer 2006.
A coat made from a grey wool jacket from Spring/Summer 2006.

So Margiela’s designs—marked by self-reflexivity and assemblage composition—become a means for getting a glimpse of the person behind the clothes. Now, a selection of his iconic designs is ready to go under the hammer. Sotheby’s will auction nearly 220 items of clothing and accessories created by Margiela between 1989-2006.

‘Martin Margiela Men’, Spring/Summer 2006.
‘Martin Margiela Men’, Spring/Summer 2006.

Curated from a private collection, each design offers a take on Margiela’s design ideology. The linen jacket from his Stockman collection from 1997 resembles a dress form (a dummy torso used by dressmakers) and comes numbered and lettered, a reference to the anonymous labour that goes into making a garment. Margiela often incorporated found objects in his designs—like a backless blouse made from assembled vintage black gloves and a long black coat made from a wool jacket. The auction will include pieces from Maison Margiela’s Artisanal collection, such as a vest made from old playing cards.

The periodicity of the collection ends in 2006, three years before Margiela retired. The auction will highlight some of Margiela’s most coveted designs during his 20-year career, but it will also shine the spotlight on a sensibility that has inspired countless designers since.

The exhibition and auction will be held online from 19 September-1 October.


Close