In 1988, Belgian designer Martin Margiela founded his namesake label Maison Martin Margiela.
The house quickly set itself apart, developing distinct codes and playfully, cleverly, manipulating perceptions of gender, form and fit in attire. Margiela’s designs were deconstructed, cerebral, often oversized, and always, somehow, restrained. Twisted basics. A silk dress turned inside out. A crew neck sweater whose collar is just a little too big. An evening blazer made from nubby fleece. Ankle boots with a cleft toe.  Gap for the gifted.
Twenty-some years later, Margiela is gone and the team that designs in his place, anonymous and without figurehead, continues to defy mass sartorial expectations with surreal, graceful wardrobe staples– last season brought a sweeping cloak composed entirely of worn baseball gloves. This season’s 
MM6 denim shirtimage-6240078-10451141 is the cool girl cardigan. A short sleeve zip up sweatshirt reimagined in precious, preppy cable-knit cotton. If Cindy Sherman did a modernist intellectual series, the characters would be wearing Margiela. Slightly off-balance details transform wardrobe staples into creative classics.  
This month, the house debuts its much buzzed about 104 piece collection for high street retailer H&M. And while Margiela is far from the first luxury design group to go the way of H&M/Target/you name it collaboration, this project might just be the most authentic—and given Margiela’s almost anti-commercial history, unexpected—yet. The pieces – all based on Margiela favorites from the archives – range from an asymmetrical, red “fold-up” dress to a nude bodysuit punctuated by a black integrated bra. They’re adaptations of Margiela basics –deconstructed, oversized black pants, giant, asymmetrical cream puffer jackets, and turtleneck jumpers. Classic accessories – a bag with a glove sewn on from A/W 89, a faceless watch for men—accompany. This collection is a goldmine for the Margiela woman on a budget; everyday apparel for an ageless, subtly rebellious type. 

Maison Martin Margiela for H&M hits stores on November 15th .
 ~Ashley Simpson

November 2012