Martin Margiela gave us broad shoulders and sculptural necklines long before they became a staple of the fall 2009 collections. So it’s not surprising that his influence has translated into a 10 percent sales increase in the 35 Margiela stores around the world — a 21 percent boost in Parisian outlets alone — and enabled the label to expand into furniture. The house’s heartwarming twentieth-anniversary spectacular last season, starring coats made of wigs, models who appeared to walk backwards, and a marching band, also deserves credit for heightening brand awareness. He gave the world something truly special before the economy went to hell! Might those irresistible wig coats also explain the profusion of shaggy fur on this season’s runways?
Last season, speculation surfaced that Margiela, perhaps the industry’s most elusive designer, was about to retire. You’ll be glad to know he hasn’t, according to Martin Margiela CEO Giovanni Pungetti. He told WWD Margiela’s still around, still going to his stark-white office (where even ketchup bottles are painted white), but he’s abandoned the rigors and tortures of a standard 9 to 5. “He’s still in his position,” Pungetti said. “He’s not here eight hours a day.” Also:
“He’s concentrating on more strategic projects. He’s still working with us in the key decisions of the company,” he said. “Yesterday, we were calling each other.
“This is the spirit [Martin] wanted to create; that’s his philosophy,” Pungetti explained. “He’s more consulting with us than designing every product. The team is more Margiela than him.”
The house employs sixteen designers, including one who has been onboard for nineteen years. Pungetti said he didn’t know if Margiela himself would be backstage at the fall 2009 show in Paris tomorrow. “Sometimes he is, sometimes not,” he said. And this is the benefit of being so elusive no one knows what you look like — you don’t even have to show up on big meeting days! The man’s got it made.