Rumours have been circulating about Martin Margiela leaving the fashion house he founded, and now they can be confirmed. Having established one of the leading images and concepts, Martin Margiela has not been replaced by a single figure but a 28 personal. Continue reading for the story from the NY Times.
PARIS — The avant-garde Belgian designer Martin Margiela has quietly left the fashion house he built — and he will not be replaced at the company, which has been majority owned by the Italian group Diesel since 2002.
Taking an attitude that may become a 21st-century template for other brands, Giovanni Pungetti, chief executive of Maison Martin Margiela, said Tuesday that the fashion house would continue to operate with the creative staff that its reclusive founder had developed over 20 years but that there would be no new appointment of a creative director.
Ever since Karl Lagerfeld was tapped by Chanel in 1983, followed by John Galliano at Christian Dior in 1997, other storied houses have tried to fill the shoes of a deceased or departed creator. But as the design appointments become a revolving door at houses like Nina Ricci or Emanuel Ungaro, the replacement mechanism seems to have broken down.
“It would have been very simple to hire someone else, and we evaluated that option, but in the end, what is important is the taste of designer,” Mr. Pungetti said Tuesday in an interview in Paris.
Insiders had known for months that Mr. Margiela had left the company in all but name. The designer’s particular vision, which had focused on the authenticity of the vintage artisan fused with modern photo prints depicting wrinkles or handwork, was missing from recent shows.
But Mr. Pungetti insisted that fashion gossip, which held that Mr. Margiela had fallen out with Renzo Rosso, the colorful founder of Diesel, was far from the truth. Mr. Margiela decided after 20 years to walk away, Mr. Pungetti said, and the fact that the designer had made himself the Greta Garbo of the fashion world by never showing his face made it easier for his absence to be covered up.
During its seven-year period of control, Diesel, which has also taken majority stakes in other edgy labels like that of the Dutch design duo Viktor & Rolf, has increased revenue at Maison Martin Margiela to a predicted €70 million, or about $105 million, for the current financial year from €15 million in 2002.
The sporadic appearance at the studio by the founding designer over the last two years has not held back developments. Margiela-branded stores have been opened across the globe from Hong Kong to Moscow to Munich, with a pop-up store at the Art Basel Miami Beach art fair this week.
The first Margiela fragrance will be introduced early next year by L’Oréal, and a spa hotel opens in Bordeaux on Friday.
“Creating ambience is a very important development area,” Mr. Pungetti said.
If the Margiela brand remains vibrant and vital without one creative force — and only time will tell if the image is fading — the Margiela initiative will be studied by the many historic brands trying to stay relevant in the 21st century. Other chief executives have suggested that “difficult” designers can impede innovation, although that view would not be shared by most fashion experts, who consider creativity paramount.
The question is whether a dedicated team — at Margiela, 28 creative personnel — could operate without a name designer whose annual compensation to produce six to eight collections would be conservatively estimated at €5 million. If the answer is yes, then the departure of Mr. Margiela, whose personal image has so rarely been seen, may leave a lasting imprint on the business.