Ok . . . so I have to admit that I am a little obsessed with this fashion house, and I have quite a collection of the designer’s clothing from over the years, but the store environments that they create to shop in are fantastically exciting too. This year, the House of Margiela premiered a line of home pieces at the furniture fair in Milan. Whether it was an experiment that will become a reality in the marketplace is one thing, but I was sad that I didn’t get to see it firsthand. I am also sad that I did not get to see the retrospective, celebrating 20 years of Maison Martin Margiela at MoMu in Antwerp. So . . . I am going to do my own little homage today, focusing on interiors. Part 2 and 3 (in the future) will focus on clothing and accessories. There’s too much yummy stuff for one posting, you know?!
I love the whole trompe-l’oeil thing, a frequently used strategy. Note the real wooden floor that has been painted to look like a “real wooden floor.” This is something that we do quite a bit too. Note our real wooden stumps, painted to look like “real wooden stumps” for an event we did for the Sundance Institute (below). It’s turning the tables; I love the wink and nudge of it all. You see fake things all the time that are trying to be real – fake Louis Vuitton bags on Canal Street, fake Rolex watches, but it is funny to see a real thing, posing as a real thing.
The wine bottle lamps (below) have been staples of the store interiors for years. A couple of years ago, I was sent a holiday gift from the New York team, thanking me for being a good customer. It was a bottle of champagne entirely painted over in their signature gesso, making the bubbly incognito, and rendering the bottle unusable. Thus, a standard gift, a bottle of spirits, is transformed into an art piece.
Painting everything over in matte white until something is “anonymous” is the method de rigueur in the shops. I am not attributing the painting to “they” or the house because there is something about the way it is done which makes you feel that everything is naturally the way it is. You don’t feel the hand of the person who does the painting or the obscuring. Rather, you feel as if everything has always been that way. Often times, materials that are of value (leather), that “should” never be painted over are painted over. Note the leather chairs below that have been erased in white gesso. The furniture naturally rises out of years of painting jeans and shoes and coats.
When not painted, furniture is often wrapped in white muslin slipcovers. Some of the most inane objects are also covered in white slip covers (hangers, for instance). And often, multiple objects, grouped together, have one single slip cover that is made for the objects as a unit. See the vignette of mannequins below, sheathed as one as well as the various seats in a line that have a single cover that unifies.
The New York store has a tiny room whose walls are upholstered in egg cartons and the jewelry collection is shown off to great effect in there. It is a brilliant amalgam of trash and chic all at once. I couldn’t find any pictures of it, but go check it out. Of course, I wish I had thought of that one. It’s so perfectly inane. And I love that they have the audacity to display and sell some of the most expensive clothing and items around in a setting that is anything but. Once again, it is not what you use, but how you use it that wins the race. It’s so inspiring for me to learn from others that do it so brilliantly and fearlessly. Merci Monsieur Margiela.