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There is a paradox at Maison Margiela that exists nowhere else: while all labels compete on the talent and reputation of their creative director, generally resulting in a cult of personality, this French fashion house has built a large part of its history on the invisibility of its eponymous founder. The iconic and mysterious Martin Margiela is one of the great couturiers of the 20th Century, despite the existence of very few photos of him and having only given one interview in his entire career. Having graduated from Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1984, alongside the avant-garde fashion collective of Walter Van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs and Marina Yee, he started out at Jean Paul Gaultier, where he worked until 1987.
The following year, he founded his eponymous label and was lauded by the fashion world as well as the public following his first runway show in October 1988. His style, deconstructed and remade garments, was a hit. In 1994, the brand launched the Replica concept, which aimed to revisit and reproduce clothing, scents or objects gathered from all over the world. Initially designed for women, the label unveiled its first menswear collection in 1998 and was awarded the Haute Couture label in 2012. Ever the innovator, Martin Margiela was one of the first designers to use recycled clothing and oversized proportions. While the fashion house has seen unprecedented success, the man himself has always remained elusive; so much so that his departure from the company that he founded was announced retrospectively, with details added long after. Under his leadership, Maison Martin Margiela produced pieces that are still iconic today, such as the Tabi ankle boots, the 5AC bag, and more recently, the Glam Slam.
In 2014, John Galliano was appointed creative director of the label, renamed Maison Margiela in the process. Trained at Central Saint Martins in London, John Galliano founded his own label in 1984. Recognition came in the middle of the 1990s. Appointed creative director of ready-to-wear and Haute Couture at Givenchy in 1995, he then succeeded Gianfranco Ferré as creative director of the Haute Couture and women's ready-to-wear collections at Dior the following year; a post that he successfully held for nearly 12 years. In 2011, he was arrested for making racist and anti-Semitic statements in a Parisian café. Removed from his role at Christian Dior, he was found guilty of voicing 'public insults'. In 2013, he made a discreet comeback by taking a residency at Oscar de la Renta. A year later, he was appointed as creative director of Maison Margiela.> View more