Martin Margiela’s Spring/Summer 2009 collection for his namesake house marked the Belgian designer’s fortieth womenswear show, and twentieth anniversary since first launching Maison Martin Margiela in 1988. Over the course of two decades, Margiela’s non-conformist attitude and conceptual approach to design produced some of the most forward-thinking, radical collections of the 1990s and early 2000s.
For spring 2009 the designer showed a self-reflective collection, revisiting pivotal moments throughout the house’s history through the eyes of present day, further challenging many of the fashion codes and concepts he introduced years, sometimes decades prior. The show opened with a reproduction of Margiela’s first jacket from spring 1989, followed by a simple t-shirt dress printed with a negative image of the original double-breasted blazer, Margiela first utilized this fabrication technique in spring 1996 when he showed a collection of unadorned dresses and skirts printed with negative photographs of sequins and other ornate materials, giving each piece a trompe l’oeil effect. The designer toyed with perspective through a number of flattened jackets, in reference to his spring/summer 1998 collection which studied geometry, questioning how two-dimensional garments could lie flat on a female’s body, and paid homage to the ‘replica’ line the designer introduced in 2003 through the inclusion of two identically styled ‘twins’, denoting the women being replicas of one another. Key themes such as anonymity and recycling were expressed though models’ blanked out, stocking-covered faces, and in the use of reworked, repurposed materials. Margiela has continuously challenged cut and proportion through the introduction of circular silhouettes, pointed shoulder pads – in 2006 – and famously in his fall/winter 2000 collection of enlarged garments, which were denoted in the final three looks of his spring 2009 show. True to form, in celebration of twenty years in fashion Margiela, remarkably unknown by face, let the clothes speak for themselves, and speak they did.