An Introduction to Maison Margiela
When Martin Margiela formed his namesake brand in 1988, after a stint as design legend Jean-Paul Gaultier’s assistant, the trend for larger-than-life designers and clothing was in full swing: contemporaries like Thierry Mugler and Christian Lacroix delivered both ostentatious, bold designs and a cult of personality to match. Margiela, a Belgian living in Paris who’d studied alongside other forward-thinkers like Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester, sought to turn this trend on its head, eschewing almost all publicity for himself — he was famously described as “fashion’s invisible man” for his refusal to have his photograph taken and his habit of delivering most communication via fax — and often obscuring models’ faces to let the clothes speak for themselves. And what clothes they were; taking an avant-garde approach to design, Margiela’s garments were deconstructed and reconstructed again, with a particular emphasis on the colour white, utilising sharp tailoring and unconventional materials to present a uniquely future-facing aesthetic. These qualities have established Maison Margiela as one of the most influential design houses of the last few decades, with its hallmarks seen in the works of celebrated designers such as Raf Simons and Vetements’ Demna Gvasalia. While Margiela himself left the brand sometime before 2009, the helm is now taken by fashion firebrand John Galliano, who has put his own stamp on the brand to much acclaim from the fashion press.
Four White Stitches
Where many brands use bold logos and branding, Maison Margiela takes a more discreet approach: each piece has its identifier label tacked to the garment with four white stitches that are visible from the outside. These four white stitches, while subtle, are an instant signifier to those in the know that you’re wearing Margiela, although they were originally solely a practical consideration: the stitches were used for the labels to make them easy to remove if one wanted a completely unbranded garment.
What Do the Numbers on Maison Margiela Labels Mean?
One notable thing about Margiela products is the striking label: consisting of the numbers 0-23, with one circled to represent the line each piece belongs to. In keeping with their concept of anonymity, the Maison themselves aren’t upfront about what each number represents, but fashion experts have managed to piece together the puzzle and help decipher another facet of this enigmatic brand:
0: “Artisanal” collection for women & men. This is the haute-couture collection, representing the pinnacle of the design team’s vision.
1: Women’s mainline collection
4: Women’s wardrobe basics
6 / mm6: Women’s diffusion line including clothes, shoes, and accessories
8: Eyewear collection
10: Men’s mainline collection
11: Accessories, including jewellery, small leather goods and bags
12: A higher-end jewellery collection
13: Publications and ‘objects’; homewares
14: Men’s wardrobe basics
15: A short-lived mail-order collection with Belgian company 3 Suisses
22: Dedicated footwear collection
Additionally, there is a capsule collection named Replica, which consists of painstaking replicas of garments and shoes from the past, with a label describing the original piece and its origins.
View our full collection of Maison Margiela clothing and footwear
Opening The Maison Margiela Stereotype T-Shirts
You have seen the Stereotype t-shirts 3-pack at the top of this brand guide but you haven’t seen what the t-shirts look like inside. Watch the video below to get a sneak pack at what is inside…