Tribute to Martin Margiela 2 – His Early Works, Concepts, Stores, and Team

In part 1 of this tribute, I already mentioned about parts of his philosophy. The main thing I perceive when I see his designs (and from the sketchy interviews with the Maison’s spokesperson) is a philosophy that “the designs should surpass the designer”. And boy, doesn’t that intrigues you? When I mention designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano, or Donatella Versace, the first thing you remember is their face, right? What about Martin Margiela? The first thing that pops would either be the face masks or the deconstructed designs, nothing about his face.


Here are some of his early works (when he was still heavily involved with the designs, and not his design teams as it has been in the past few years):

[photos from]

Margiela’s first show

Autumn/ Winter 1989

Spring/ Summer 1990, the second show

Autumn/ Winter 90-91

Spring/ Summer 1992

Autumn/ Winter 1995. You can see that he has further developed his anonymity by putting on face masks on the models

Spring/ Summer 1999. The models wore sandwich boards printed with the designs of the clothes, rather than putting on the actual clothes

Spring/ Summer 2003


I’ve mentioned before that the philosophy of Margiela is that the designs are beyond the designer. When the brand was starting out and warming up, all their collections have no label attached on them. The only distinguishing feature was four diagonal white stitches on the back of the clothes in rectangular shape.

Maison Martin Margiela white stitches

The white stitches on the back of the clothes

Margiela label

The inside and the back

However, as time passes and MMM started bearing more collections, the blank white label evolved to a label with number 0-23 printed on it. Each number defines the collection for the corresponding piece of item as shown in the images below:

The numbers and the collections they represent

The numbers and the collections they represent

Number 14 "A wardrobe for men"

Number 14 “A wardrobe for men”

Number 8 "Eyewear collection"

Number 8 “Eyewear collection”


Equally intriguing is the concept of their stores and the design teams. The stores are painted and decorated with all whites. It was said that when starting out, Martin Margiela and Jenny Meirens (the co-founder) were filling the first store with items from all kinds of places; flea markets, streets, shops from all over the world. To make the store seem coherent they painted all the furniture in white instead. Besides that, white means something more to MMM. It represents neutrality, a blank canvas, endless possibilities. Even the sales assistants wear white lab coats to further enhance the “whiteness” of the brand.

Even so, Chris Dercon, a fashion historian and sociologist, was given statements from MMM that “white signifies ‘the power of fragility, especially the fragility of passing time… passing time leaves traces on a white surface.’” Dercon also notes a fundamental contradiction: the passage of time leaves unique marks, thus “[w]hite is therefore in no way neutral or anonymous.” [taken from]


MMM store in Nagoya, Japan

MMM store Beijing

MMM store in Beijing


Now, the design team. Just like the mastermind himself, they too, choose to pursue the cult of anonymity. They wear white lab coats while in the MMM headquarters, and when they prepare the collections for the brand’s runway presentation. No less mysterious too, they are. Their names also remained hanging in the clouds.

Martin Margiela design team

MMM design team

MMM team members

MMM team members

I guess I just blew you with heaps of images. I’m utterly fascinated with the way they work, and the whole anonymous thing is an appeal of the brand itself. Early publications of Margiela’s work never forgot to scream about his hidden figure and mysterious concepts altogether.

So what do you think of MMM now? Sheer genius or brilliant marketing strategy in disguise? I honestly go for both 🙂

Posts in the series:
Tribute to Martin Margiela 1 – Why It’s Crucial to Know Him
Tribute to Martin Margiela 3 – The Evolution of Maison Martin Margiela




-The Dilly Chic-

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8 Thoughts.

  1. I am so impressed ! The whole philosophy is really intriguing. You don’t see a brand’s philosophy permeating in every thing they do. At MMM its different. God I would love to read more, this feels like a novel now and I am waiting for the next chapter !

    Plus picture boards on the runway and blank labels… wow ! Who does that ! 🙂 Thanks to you I know a lot more !

    Swati @ The Creative Bent

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