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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 January 2021

A decade after quitting fashion for art, Martin Margiela is set to open his first exhibition

Famously reclusive, Margiela is finally set to show his first solo artworks

A haute couture design for spring 2020, by John Galliano at Maison Margiela. Courtesy Maison Margiela.
A haute couture design for spring 2020, by John Galliano at Maison Margiela. Courtesy Maison Margiela.

The fashion world is known for its eccentric characters and one of its most rebellious figures has to the Belgium designer, Martin Margiela.

Now, a full decade after quitting the fashion industry for art, he is on the brink of staging his first solo art exhibition.

In April he will take over the galleries at Lafayette Anticipations in Paris, a space that is overseen by the Galeries Lafayette foundation.

According to a press release, the show itself will be a "total artwork" housing sculptures, installations and paintings, none of which have ever been seen in public before. Having already cemented his career in fashion, and with no preview of the artworks yet available, we will have to wait until later this year to see what he is capable of in the field of art.

Martin Margiela made the split-toe tabi boots famous, as seen here for autumn/winter 2018 runway show. GettyImages
Martin Margiela made the split-toe Tabi boots famous, as seen here for autumn / winter 2018 runway show. Getty Images

Presently slated to run from Thursday, April 15 to Sunday, July 25, the exhibition dates are, of course, subject to ongoing coronavirus restrictions in France. The release describes the show as an event that “celebrates the idea that Martin Margiela has always been an artist, whose work has played out since, within and outside the art world.”

Born in Leuven, Belgium in 1957, Margiela initially studied art, before switching to fashion while studying at the Royal Academy of Art in Antwerp. He quickly gained a reputation for rule breaking, from his famously deconstructed silhouettes, to the traditional Japanese Tabi shoe that he introduced to Europe by way of a split toed leather boot.

Having founded the esoteric house Maison Martin Margiela, he never gave interviews and refused even to put his name inside the clothes, instead sewing a patch of calico with numbers printed on it. He designed everything by committee, inviting every person on his studio to contribute ideas and suggestions, in which they all shared equal credit.

A deeply private man, he refused to appear on the runway at the end of his shows, and avoided being photographed to the extent no one outside of his studio really knew what he looked like. Not until his 2019 documentary Martin Margiela: In His Own Words, did the world get a glimpse of this reclusive man. In 2009, he walked away from his company, despite being at the height of his fame, to return to art.

Today the house is headed by John Galliano, under the moniker, Maison Margiela.

Updated: January 5, 2021 06:50 PM

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