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Martin Margiela Biography

Martin Margiela is a Belgian designer legendary for his pioneering haute couture, ready-to-wear collections, and provocative catwalk shows. He founded the fashion label Maison Margiela in Paris in 1988 and used it to methodically deconstruct the conventions of garment production, and those of runway and model behaviour.

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Between 1997 and 2003 he was also creative director of Hermès' women's line. In 2009 Margiela resigned from his company and disappeared, but in 2021 he re-emerged with an exhibition after earlier announcing he would devote his life to being an artist, one however who never would meet interviewers face to face.

Early Years

Margiela graduated in 1979 from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and worked freelance in Paris for five years, before working for Jean-Paul Gaultier (1985–1987).

Margiela's method of deconstructing clothing through his own brand was via strategies such as absurdly long sleeves or stitched seams exposed on the outside. His garment labels were of blank white material, avoiding information, and with his outrageous innovation, he was considered to be ahead of his time.

Martin Margiela Artworks

Being an extremely private person, Martin Margiela has no recognisable facial identity (he and his models were always masked) and he communicates only by fax or email. There is no public face linked to the art 'brand' either, apart from a couple of very early photos. His sculptures, drawings, collages, photography, videos, paintings, conceptual labels, and installations feature subjects other than wearable clothes.

Highly fetishistic, the 20 artworks presented at Margiela's 2021 solo exhibition at Lafayette Anticipations have a preoccupation with the surface and textural attributes of the human body. This is seen in the porous skin of BODY PART colour (2019) and BODYPART (2020) and the wavy hair in Hair Portraits (2015–2019), REDHEAD (2019), VANITAS (2019), CARTOGRAPHY (2019), and BUS STOP (2020). Margiela presents not the body clothed, posed, or seen in its entirety—but parts of it. See Torso I-III (2018–2021), LIPSYNC (2020), and RED NAILS (2019).

His practice deals with the normally unnoticed processes of transformation linked to time's impact on surfaces, particularly those associated with abandoned objects with epidermal layers or follicles—and the impact of eventual absence. Some works are descriptive wall labels accompanied by nothing.


Martin Margiela has been the subject of Martin Margiela, Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp (2022) and Martin Margiela, Lafayette Anticipations, Paris (2021). His work has also featured in FIAC, Paris (2021).


Margiela's fashion items are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

John Hurrell | Ocula | 2022

Martin Margiela
featured artworks

Hair Portrait by Martin Margiela contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, photography, print
Martin Margiela Hair Portrait, 2023 Collage on magazine
34 x 26 cm
Zeno X Gallery
Vanitas by Martin Margiela contemporary artwork sculpture
Martin Margiela Vanitas, 2019 Silicone, natural dyed hair
90 x 255 x 50 cm
Zeno X Gallery
Red Nails Model by Martin Margiela contemporary artwork works on paper, sculpture
Martin Margiela Red Nails Model, 2021 Nymphenburg porcelain enamel

Zeno X Gallery

Martin Margiela
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