Redefining Fashion with the Mysterious Martin Margiela

By Sotheby's
From 19 September to 1 October 2019 Sotheby's will auction a collection dedicated to fashion’s most discreet designer. Nearly 220 items of clothing and accessories from a private collection will, in a single high-profile sale, revisit the most iconic creations of Martin Margiela 's career from his emergence in 1989 through to 2006. The sale will offer ready-to-wear pieces as well as a wide selection of limited editions from the Artisanal collection.

M artin Margiela is considered one of the most extraordinary couturiers of his generation. New York Magazine said of his radical and exploratory designs that it was as if “Marcel Duchamp were reincarnated as a fashion designer”, and he is widely regarded as having reset the rules of fashion, ushering a new era of style as the world moved into a postmodern phase during the 1990s. On top of his ability comes his mystique: he has never given an interview, remains backstage during his shows, and even his brand is a discreet white label.

Martin Margiela, "Artisanal", Spring-Summer 2001. Backless top made from assembled vintage black gloves. Estimate €4,000–5,000. A pleated red skirt made of assembled vintage skirts. Estimate €2,000–3,000

The radical approach adopted by Margiela involved investigating the construction of garments by deconstructing them. He would reveal the reverse of the fabric and its lining and push size to its extremes, from 200% oversized pieces to dolls’ clothing adapted to human size. He printed trompe-l'oeil dresses, knitwear and coats. He even painted his pieces. He questions garment obsolescence with his Artisanal collection created from vintage clothing and found objects transformed by the designer into unique, hand-stitched pieces.

Martin Margiela Men, Spring-Summer 2006, "Artisanal", Waistcoat made of playing cards which are shuffled, aged, frayed and ironed. Estimate €8,000–10,000

Among the most important items offered in this sale are his tapered coats created at the beginning of his career for the autumn-winter 1989-1990 collection (estimated from €3,000), and enlarged doll's clothing from the autumn-winter 1994-1995 collection (estimate €800–1,200).

A long duvet coat with removable sleeves with brown piping. Estimate €8,000–10,000.
With a pair of silver painted jeans. Estimate €1,000–1,200.

Included are highlights from Margiela's most famous collections, including leather pieces from the autumn-winter 1992-1993 Salvation Army collection (estimate from €1,800), and pieces from the photographic prints collection of spring-summer 1996 (estimate from €1,500). Among the most iconic lots are pieces from the spring-summer 1997 Stockman collection, including the famous linen jacket (estimate €6,000–8,000) and the down coats of autumn-winter 1999-2000 (estimate from €7,000) in both lengths.

The sale will also offer a unique opportunity to acquire one of the 40 limited edition pieces from the Artisanal collection, including a top created from bow ties, only two of which were produced at that time (estimate €5,000–7,000) and the legendary men's vest assembled from playing cards, only five of which were ever created (Estimate €8,000–10,000).

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