I wanted to write about the Maison Martin Margiela* SS2011 RTW show right after the original runway photos came out. Unfortunately, every time I looked at the press photos, a certain television theme song would, inevitably, begin playing in my head – suddenly, all bets were off and I’d have to call it quits for the day.
But, the shoes have been available since mid-year and I need to get my ranting and reviewing over with already.
First Impressions: Love or Hate?
Let’s peek at that runway, shall we?
In the midst of such fashion, it’s easy to overlook what would otherwise be the eccentricities of the footwear.
So, I know I’ve mentioned this somewhere before, but here’s the basic rundown of my general viewpoint on fashion-as-art vs. the exploration of art with a fashion viewpoint or art as fashion commentary**:
I understand that runway shows aren’t reflective of real world fashion; this is why we look at the runway for the overall concepts of shape, color, and such while expecting that the eventual retail versions will have details altered for the larger market. The translation is often considered a success if the final colors and shapes at retail manage to bow to practicalities of wear-ability while still managing to stay true to the spirit and originality of the source show.
But, then there are the times when the fashion becomes so outré that it becomes a case where the designer is less about fashion and more about art that happens to sit on a human sculptural base. I don’t have a problem with it from the standpoint of art. I do, however, find it disingenuous to have such a designer showing such creations as a fashion line rather than admitting to themselves – and the watching public – that they are shamelessly taking advantage of their access to the runway platform to indulge in the presentation of a purely artistic installation.
My distinction hinges on the idea that fashion is about people. Fashion is expressive. It can run the gamut from mundane to artistic to visionary. But, in order to stay under the umbrella of fashion it must, in some small degree, bow to the dynamic movement needs and physical limitations of the human form for which it is designed. Fashion is based on the knowledge that there is a body beneath the clothing – a body that breathes, lives, moves. Fashion is most successful when the body and the design are working in partnership; an unusual partnership at times, but working together nonetheless. When fashion designs ignore the basis that even conceptual fashion must suit the needs of wearing on a dynamic (non-static) body, we have moved into the realm of sculptural art where fashion is the inspiration source, rather than the ultimate result.
I say all of this to clarify that I don’t hate the Margiela SS2011 RTW show. In fact, it makes for great theatre and is absolutely successful if appreciated in the context of being a short-lived, kinetic, sculptural-installation about fashion. But, when your show has the phrase ‘Ready to Wear’ in the title, and none of the styles are translatable into any form of wearable fashion without making such drastic changes as to lose any connection to the original runway source, then fashion has left the building and art has taken over. The ready-to-wear label is such a huge misnomer as to boggle the imagination.
Interestingly enough – and in a marked contrast to so many shows where the shoes are the least wearable portion of the runway – the conceptual shoes from the Margiela SS2011 RTW show were, surprisingly, the most wearable thing on the runway. They are funky, they are bizarre, they are playful and unique. While they may not be practical for most women’s wardrobes (and the sheer rain-catching potential makes this Pacific-Northwest gal cringe at how easily these could be ruined in a surprise downpour), they have great potential for your uber-fashion-forward and artistically-inclined personalities.
The Maison Martin Margiela ‘Defile’ line of T-strap wedges, open-top sandal-pumps, cut-out boots, and sandal-pump court shoes are on clearance at LN-CC and range from £215-£314 (Originally £537-£783). Several of these styles are also available at the Maison Martin Margiela e-boutique; Originally priced at $855-$930, they are currently on clearance for $428-498.
I suppose that if I had money to burn (and wouldn’t that be nice ?), I’d want a pair of these for use a display piece, at the very least.
*No longer actually owned by Margiela, of course… for all of you fashion dreamers out there – be careful who you sell your trademarked name to, kiddos – you can never know how that will end.
** Which again brings me to recommend Robert Altman’s ‘Prêt-à-porter‘ (US title: ‘Ready to Wear‘). An odd-but-relevant art-film, it has several entertaining moments, and is an intriguing satirical take on the world of runway fashion.