It's quite amazing how two singularnot to mention reclusivedesigners, in two different cities, managed to hit on the same idea in the same season. But that is exactly what transpired when Martin Margiela put on a show of clothes derived from home furnishingsan almost identical source to the one used by Hussein Chalayan. Not that their clothes look remotely similargive or take a coincidental couch reference or two. What Margiela's been up to comes completely out of his own brand of what can only be called surrealist-utilitarianism: He studies found objects around him and thinks, "Aha! How can that be made into clothes?"
This season, it was the cretonne slipcovers of sofas, seventies leather chairs, pieces of rug, curtains, and car seats (complete with seat belts) that were transformed into jackets, trousers, skirts, high-heeled sandals, and belts. Just enough of the impression of the original materials is preserved in the clothessuch as the piping of the loose seat covers or a line of upholstery studsto make their provenance readable. But while it's true that the sight of Margiela's ingenious transformations tickles his fans no end, they also show up to check out the non-jokey things they'll be putting on their shopping lists for the coming season. There was plenty on that score here; not just Margiela's immaculately tailored classic pinstripe pantsuit, but also some ultra-glam surprises, like a black feather coat and a diamante bow traced into a suede cutout neckpiece. For those who value unidentifiable, elegant dressing, Margiela's the man.