Sorry I missed you last week. I took a few days to fly to Antwerp to see the Martin Margiela exhibit at MoMu, and it was well worth the trip. Martin Margiela has been a huge influence on my own work, especially his designs for Hermes which were very understated but revolutionary in ways that are only starting to be understood. When I was in design school I obsessed over his work, so I just had to go see it in person and am so glad that I did.
Margiela is a master of tailoring, and in his work for his own brand he pushed the boundaries of traditional tailoring. He re-cycled, turned clothes inside out, made use of unexpected materials, and used traditional materials in new and unexpected ways. His work was incredibly creative, introducing everything from split-toe shoes to duvet-inspired coats.
When he was hired by the luxury brand Hermes, many people didn’t know what to expect from him. He certainly wasn’t a typical choice for the brand, and he didn’t embrace the vibrant, rich colors that Hermes was already well known for. Instead, he played with neutral shades and understated tones that look especially rich and luxurious, even today. Like Katherina Hepburn, Chanel, and Yves St. Laurent, he also reconsidered traditionally men’s staples like trousers, the trench coat, and the classic button-down shirt and he developed androgynous styles that are virtually timeless, ageless, and even occasion-less. His designs from twenty years ago look just as wearable today as they did when he created them.
But what really makes Margiela’s work relevant and important is the practicality of his designs. Many of his clothes were quite versatile and could be worn in multiple ways. He also designed for women of all ages (so revolutionary!), and his clothing focused on putting women in the spotlight so the clothes highlighted the woman rather than being flashy or drawing attention to themselves. He played with the idea of a uniform that would allow women to express a quiet confidence and elegance through well-cut, tailored clothes that were both practical and luxurious, with the underlying desire that a women who wore his clothes could express a subtle self-absurdness through her clothing. I also love that as a designer, he stayed in the background rather than becoming a design celebrity. In fact, he was almost never photographed and never gave interviews because he wanted the garments to speak for themselves. In many ways, he was doing slow fashion decades before slow fashion became a “thing.” His designs evolved slowly rather than changing silhouettes dramatically from season to season.
Here are a few photographs from the show, and here is an interview with Margiela if you’d like to learn more about his work. I’m still thinking about everything I saw at this show and looking at my sketches from the exhibit. (Photography isn’t allowed. These are photos from MoMu.)
It’s been so busy here I completely forgot that we usually do #madeforkidsmonth in June. Anyone want to play? Here’s a post with the details, but it’s really whatever you want it to be. S is still in school in June, so we’ll play along when she’s not in her uniform.
Did you follow our SoHo Shorts sew-along this week? Our many thanks to Rita, who took all the photos for it. Her shorts turned out really cute, too! I also spotted this darling Butterfly Blouse and Lunchbox Tee sewn by Laine using cute fabrics. It’s always so much fun to browse Instagram to see what you’re sewing.
Do you collect anything? I don’t really (except–by default–fabric and books), but I love the look of a good collection, like in these photos. Antique stores often do such a beautiful job of merchandising displays of multiples. I’ll never forget a display of garden faucet handles in my aunt’s favorite shop a few years ago. Who knew faucet handles could be so appealing?
Here’s a great way to wear a Gallery Tunic. And this sleeveless dress by The Row reminds me of the Lisette for Butterick B6411 dress without sleeves. Which would be so easy to do….
Here are a couple of cute sleeve ideas for you. The first one could easily be achieved with our Butterfly Blouse. The second interests me because it’s playing on a French cuff with added flare and repeating flounces that move up the arm. Fun! I may need to play with this idea, especially since my friend Robin and I have been talking about French cuffs and the Classic Shirt pattern.
Speaking of the Classic Shirt, I’ve just finished sewing one lengthened enough to be worn as a shirt dress (I’m wearing it right now!) for an upcoming blog post or two. I like the way this shirt dress (below, left) is layered undera skirt like our City Stroll Wrap Skirt. I think I might need to try wearing it this way! Also, how intriguing is this shirt placket? I don’t think it would be very difficult to do, but I might be fooling myself.
- The Balenciaga show looks like it would be well worth a visit to the V & A. (But then again, when isn’t it worthwhile to visit the V&A?)
- Speaking of Balenciaga, wouldn’t it be amazing to examine and then reproduce an original Balenciaga, becoming an expert about it in the process? I’m a teeny big jealous of these students! (Thanks for the link, Jennifer.)
- It’s prom season. Here’s a history of the prom dress and everything it signifies.
- Eco fabrics are (hopefully) not too far off in the future!
- I read this piece about the beloved Mister Rogers while eating alone at a cafe in Antwerp and found myself both weeping and laughing in the process. And I didn’t care if anyone was watching. What an amazing man.
- Speaking of Mister Rogers, listen to him talk about those cardigans his mother made him. Love in every stitch. (This is one reason I sew, and I think many of you sew for loved ones for this reason as well.)
- Whoa, if you think sheer dresses and body-con dresses today are scandalous, it’s fascinating to read that Belle Epoque dresses were equally shocking in their time!
We’ll be back next week with our usual fun ideas to share. Maybe I’ll even have time to photograph some of my recent sewing to show you! (I’ve been sewing up a storm.) In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend.