Friday, August 14, 2020

Martin Margiela: In His Own Words

Release date: August 14, 2020
Running time: 90 minutes

One of the most revolutionary and influential fashion designers of his time, Martin Margiela has remained an elusive figure the entirety of his decades-long career. From Jean Paul Gaultier's assistant to creative director at Hermès to leading his own House, Margiela never showed his face publicly and avoided interviews, but reinvented fashion with his radical style through forty-one provocative collections. Now, for the first time, the "Banksy of fashion" reveals his drawings, notes, and personal items in this exclusive, intimate profile of his vision.  Through interviews with, among others, Margiela himself, Jean Paul Gaultier, Carine Roitfeld, trend forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort, fashion critic Cathy Horyn, and fashion historian Olivier Saillard, the documentary paints a picture of Margiela's career and his impact on the fashion world.

Let me start off by saying that I am not a fashion person.  The world of fashion is a very foreign place to me and the styles that move and influence that world are not something I keep track of.  That being said, Martin Margiela provides a perfect introduction to this world and what design decisions caused his clothes to be so revolutionary.  The discussion with Margiela is very helpful, but what is more illuminating are the individuals who were interviewed in response to his work.  Those individuals allow you to see the passion and effect that Margiela's clothes had on the fashion world.  And they do a great job of explaining what was so revolutionary about his choices.  Their enthusiasm translates onto the viewer and lets you appreciate the fashion even if you never had an interest in it.

A large part of the film involves footage from Margiela's fashion shows, and although I have never been a fashion show person, these were the most exciting parts of the documentary.  Margiela was a rockstar of the fashion world, breaking the mold with wild and different ideas, and the portrayal of his shows in In His Own Words fits this description.  The shows highlight his bold fashion and decisions and are accompanied by rock guitar music to keep the energy high. You also get additional explanation on his clothes during this, which gives you an appreciation of the show and also an excitement to see his ideas realized.  If there is a critique of this film, it is that it does a great job chronicling Margiela's clothes, but I would have liked to see how his clothes influenced modern fashion.  It showed some bold clothing and ideas, ones that broke the mold and challenged what you could do, but I would have liked to see if those ideas were adopted more broadly.  And as much as I loved the fashion shows--and they truly were a highlight--they did tend to have similar playing music and were so frequently displayed that it sometimes felt like one show runway ran right into the next.  But these minor criticisms aside, this documentary is a detailed look at an influential fashion designer, and should appeal to the fashion conscious and oblivious alike.

Martin Margiela: In His Own Words highlights this revolutionary designers clothes and impact in a way that can appeal to the fashion conscious and oblivious alike.  I never thought I would be recommending a documentary on fashion, but this is definitely one to watch.

Watch it.
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