Martin Margiela worked himself into fashion's consciousness as a re-animator, giving new life to the forgotten, the neglected, the worn-out, but with the direction his menswear has been taking, he's looking much less earnest. In fact, he's ready to party on down. That, at least, would seem to be the message of this collection, which extended Spring's razzle-dazzle with its emphasis on eveningwear and shiny, happy effects like a T-shirt printed with a glow-in-the-dark neon tuxedo bib. The gold and silver detailing that shot through the collection included Lurex thread on a sheer cotton shirt, piping on a tuxedo pant, and significant accessories (one pendant featured a razor blade, another a little silver spoonStudio 54, anyone?). A fox fur bowtie made a necklace that suggested a fuzzy Chippendale.
Such outré flourishesnot to mention other less flashy touches like a pre-pilled sweater and a felted overcoat that was riveted rather than stitched togetheronly served to emphasize Margiela's status as fashion's master arcanist. His Replica project, for instance, which reconstructs pieces from the past, included this season a beaver coat from Moscow (1990), a tweed trenchcoat from Portland, Oregon (1969), and construction boots from Detroit (mid-nineties). It would be pleasing to report that such items were worth rescuing from the scrap heap of history, but it was the less painstakingly literal itemslike a shearling-collared metallic-blue nylon blouson with a Ziggy Stardust flare, or five-pocket jeans in gray flannelthat had more impact. What Replica has done, however, is clarify how clever Margiela is at loading the clothes he designs with narrative weight. And who can resist a good story?