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Sunday, 20 June 2010

Maison Martin Margiela at Somerset House

Exhibitions like this make me realise why I am doing a blog about London. There is so much to do, hidden in places you may not ever consider looking.

A Thursday night is a great time to do things in London because often galleries and shops stay open late, so it is easy to hop on the tube after work and see something exciting. This Thursday I went to the Maison Martin Margiela show at Somerset House with a good friend I managed to drag along for the ride. We sat in the Courtyard outside for half an hour beforehand in the glorious sunshine. After finishing our Nero coffees and muffins we went into the house to explore the coveted work of Margiela.

This fashion company was born in 1988, the same year as me. The Belgian stylist from which the name derives is known predominantly for his stark white garments and the transgressive themes that can be seen throughout his clothing lines, both ready-to-wear and couture. Maison Martin Margiela celebrates 20 years of the label.

A white caravan sits at the exhibition’s entrance then, walking through white arches, you are in a white, sparkling wonderland. The show is made up of films, clothes, documents and cleverly constructed installations. Everything seems carefully thought out, and the pieces are shown in such innovative ways that it makes you reconsider the purpose of the work entirely. There is a pervasive uncertainty that Margiela most probably intended, challenging all the time the conventions and traditions of clothing and fashion.

The space is otherworldly and magical, and garments hang as pieces of valuable artwork. The video clips are mesmerising – models stride the catwalk with their faces always covered - very disturbing. Secrecy remains central to the designer’s success, his clothes are isolated on the models (they are very much blank canvases) and Margiela kept an entirely private personal life too.

This exhibition is a rare opportunity to see Margiela’s vision in its full glory.

Open until September 5, 2010.

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