Martin Margiela claimed San Francisco in the 1970's as the inspiration for his latest menswear. But the resolutely low-profile designer didn't have Castro Street clones in mind; he was thinking more of the last gasp of boho Beat culture, with a dash of hippie for good measure. This meant a T-shirt printed with a sunset-over-the-Golden-Gate image, a jacket whose reverse was covered with studs, a pair of patchwork trousers, and sneakers scribbled with slogans like "My grass is blue." Margiela's man was more intriguing, though, when he went Vegas in electric-blue leathers, a washable cotton tux, and shoes given a gold spray-gun treatment that will flake for added character. Could it be that Martin is turning less shy and retiring?
The shoes were part of Margiela's Replica program, an exercise in sartorial archaeology that re-creates vintage items using the original material and construction. For spring, the Replicas included a leather jacket with zip-off sleeves from Berlin in the 1980's, an evening jacket from London in the early sixties, and a cricket sweater from Beverly Hills in 1974. That might sound arcane, but it is part of Margiela's quiet genius that what could have been an archly academic exercise produced such wearable, covetable clothes.