5 Must-See Pieces at Margiela’s Retrospective in Paris

Celebrating the legacy of an anonymous legend

Rebel, nonconformist and audacious are just some of the words often used to describe Belgian designer Martin Margiela, who—despite having been consecrated as an icon by critics the world over—has managed to remain completely anonymous. For the first time, a retrospective at the Palais Galliera in Paris traces his career.

The conceptual designer—who constantly questioned fashion and its codes—obeyed no rules. He deconstructed and reinterpreted clothing by revealing the linings, produced oversized dimensions and created a new, morphic design of shoe – the now -legendary ‘tabi’ – inspired by traditional Japanese designs.


Margiela was easily one of the first high fashion designers to introduce recycling on a runway – a trend that has since inspired countless emerging designers like Vetements’ Demna Gvasalia. He recovered vintages pieces and objects to create something new, challenging the accepted diktat of commercialism and fashion’s obsession with renewal.  

His boldness was demonstrated on each and every runway he showed his collections on, where he would cast unknown women to wear his designs in some off-kilter locations.

With over 20 years (1989-2009) of his designs exhibited, MILLE selects five memorable Margiela pieces that changed fashion forever.

Tagged Tabi Boots, 1991
The tabi boots have been present in Margelia’s shows since the very first one in 1989. They have since been redesigned and customized in some incredible ways.

Martin Margiela. “Paire de bottines tabi tagées”. Cuir blanc, toile de coton blanc, encre feutre noir et bleu. 1991. Galliera, musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris.

A doll’s jumper designed in adult size, AW84
For this collection, a doll’s wardrobe was redesigned into human size.


The SS98 Flat Collection
“When not worn, these pieces are totally flat,” was written on the stage of the collection’s presentation.


The Oversize Collections
For the first season of the new millennium, Margiela designed a XXXXL collection – a concept he developed over six consecutive seasons.


The Wig Jacket, 2009
“What’s that jacket, Margiela?” said Kanye West in his iconic track “N***** in Paris” featuring Jay-Z. And what jacket was he referring to? This one of course. The Wig Jacket first appeared in the designer’s last S/S 2009 show to celebrate his 20 year tenure at his eponymous house.

Margiela / Galleria, (1989-2009) runs until July 15 at Palais Galliera, Paris

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