The Philosopher King: Arch-Radical Martin Margiela's Tenure at Hermes, 1997-2003.


032c recently published a retrospective on Martin Margiela's tenure at Hermes, coinciding with a commemorative exhibition of his work at the MOMU Antwerp. Despite a wave of young designers taking the reigns at various storied European fashion houses (McQueen at Givenchy, Ford at Gucci) Margiela, going to Hermes was, in context the most radical to date. The appointment was a testament to the genius of Margiela, with Hermes CEO and heir Jean-Louis Dumas stating “I think Martin Margiela has a good idea of who we are. He sees through us better than ourselves.” In my opinion, Margiela's time at Hermes is not defined by his signature deconstruction, but instead by the subtle introduction of comfort and anonymity in design into the realm of hyper-luxury. What Margiela was able to do with Hermes, and how he applied such an innovative approach in his collections to the historically informed context of Hermes, is remarkable. The lineage of this aesthetic and approach to luxury is still palpable today; not only within Hermes but the broader landscape of high fashion. This much-needed retrospective illuminates a period of Margiela's career that is oft-ignored, and I can not imagine a better way to describe Martin Margiela, his legacy, and his work, than that of a "lucid philosopher king." Read the full feature here