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2009 October 5

Creative Director, Please!

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A look from Maison Martin Margiela's spring 2010 collection, designed by the Margiela team A look from Maison Martin Margiela's spring 2010 collection, designed by the Margiela team
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(PARIS) It was only a year ago that the reclusive Belgian designer Martin Margiela staged what is unofficially known to be both his 20th anniversary and retirement show, and in the two collections since--including the one shown here on Friday--the house has showed signs of strain. Given the legendary iron curtain of secrecy that surrounds the house and its operations, editors and retailers are left to wonder who, or what, is in charge, even though a Margiela-appointed team has assumed design leadership. "Martin has not been there for a long time," Renzo Rosso told reporters this weekend. "He is here but not here. We have a new fresh design team on board. We are focusing on young, realistic energy for the future; this is really Margiela for the year 2015."

According to the New York Times, Margiela approached Raf Simons to take over the helm in 2008, but Simons opted to renew his contract with Jil Sander. As of last October, the company (which has been majority-owned by Rosso's Only the Brave since 2000) admitted that it was working with a headhunter to find a new designer. In fact, The Daily has at last confirmed that Haider Ackermann was asked to fill the vacated role, but according to sources, the designer turned down the offer. Contributing to his decision could be the brand's refusal to promote or even publicize the head designer, who would presumably be working anonymously and receive no critical attention for his or her work. Insiders believe that Martin Margiela is contractually obligated to be listed as the brand's creative director indefinitely.

But given the frosty reception to the Spring collection, Rosso has reason to reconsider the status quo approach, which is rumored to been a part of Margiela's original deal with Only the Brave. "What was sent out for Spring was such a stuttering, ill-sequenced pastiche of the rigorous, witty, avant-garde thinking that used to stream out here that it is almost unkind to enumerate the ways in which it disappointed," wrote Style.com's Sarah Mower. Rosso has often expressed his admiration for Margiela himself--a man who frequently communicates by fax and signs correspondence "Maison Martin Margiela"--but he's also one of fashion's most formidable businessmen. Something's gotta give. "As long standing policy we do not comment on such reports and inquiries," said a brand representative. "Thank you. For, and on behalf of, all at the Maison Martin Margiela."
ASHLEY BAKER




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