The Reclusive Designer Martin Margiela Left Fashion to Focus on Art. A Decade Later, He’s Having His First Solo Show in Paris

Details of the show remain mysterious.

A model walks the runway during the Maison Margiela show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2020/2021. Photo: Estrop/Getty Images.
A model walks the runway during the Maison Margiela show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2020/2021. Photo: Estrop/Getty Images.

The former avant-garde fashion designer Martin Margiela is showing his visual art publicly for the first time with a solo  exhibition in Paris.

Taking over the galleries at Lafayette Anticipations in April, the show focuses solely on Margiela’s visual art, rather than his fashion designs, including never-before-seen sculptures, paintings, and installations—in an exhibition that will become a “total artwork,” according to a statement.

The Belgian designer, who is 63, has maintained an elusive presence in the design world, becoming one of the most acclaimed names in fashion, but without ever giving an interview. No verified photograph of his face exists and he stayed backstage during  runway shows. Margiela retired from fashion in 2009 and has quietly dedicated himself to making art ever since.

Lafayette Anticipations, which is overseen by the Galeries Lafayette foundation and the Moulin Family endowment fund, is planning to open the eponymously titled show from April 15 to July 25. Museums and galleries in France are currently closed due to the ongoing lockdown.

“This exhibition celebrates the idea that Martin Margiela has always been an artist, whose work has played out since, within and outside the art world,” read a statement from the foundation.

Born in 1957 in Leuven, Belgium, Margiela studied art as a teenager before attending the Royal Academy of Art in Antwerp where he turned to fashion design. In his fashion career, Margiela was known for his deconstructed silhouettes and using upcycled materials. The works at Lafayette will continue to explore these aesthetic expressions, as well as broader themes of mystery, disappearance, chance, and aura.

Visuals for the exhibition will be revealed at the end of January, but for now, a lone image of a rolled-out deodorant stick with the label cut is the only one Margiela has approved to share with the press.


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