June 28, 2007
Martin Margiela has never staged a show for his men's collection, opting instead for intimate showroom presentations. This time, he commissioned five photographers to interpret the new season and then mounted an exhibition of the results, with the showroom reconfigured as a white-walled gallery space. It was the kind of intelligent alternative Margiela has always excelled at, and it underscored a return to peak condition for the designer. The past few seasons have seemed so wayward, with their West Coast indulgences and their Replica sidelines, that it was a relief to get back to smart, thoughtful, even meaningful clothes. For spring, Margiela toyed with optical illusions: a print carried over from shirt to waistcoat, a pinstripe from pants to sneakers, a T-shirt and jacket in the same ticking stripe. A waistcoat zipped to a pair of trousers, and an evening shirt attached to tuxedo pants in the same way, which made for an idiosyncratic but accessible variation on the season's appetite for jumpsuits. Shoes had pieces removed, creating a shadow effect. This vaguely forensic notion was more realized in jackets with embedded detailslapels, buttons, a pocket flap concealed under the outer "skin" of the garment. Same thing with a biker jacket with embedded epaulets and pocket flaps. There are few designers as accomplished at communicating the inner life of clothes, but in the midst of life, there was
a target T-shirt with bullet holes running front to back. A showy gesture perhaps, but something to ponder during fashion week's dark nights of the soul.