Now in its second turn on the catwalk, the Maison Martin Margiela Artisanal Collection — the brand’s special line of one-off pieces created from upcycled vintage clothing — injects a dose of eco-consciousness in the indulgent confectionery of couture week. The refreshing anonymity of the designer(s) allows the collection — a breviloquent and tightly edited sequence of 19 looks painstakingly cobbled together from candy wrappers and twenties evening dresses — to speak for itself. Also incognito were the models, whose faces were shrouded behind intricately patterned balaclava emblazoned with deco beading; obscured models’s faces are a tradition at the house.
In an alchemical coup, the collection managed to recycle the past without succumbing to nostalgia. Oversized “Working Girl” blazers lost their sleeves and became sexy, minimalist dresses. Bedizened Pioret-like dresses were given edgy new lapels and resurrected as extravagant overcoats. Some multicolored burnout velvet was salvaged to create a nonchalantly exquisite strapless column with a sheer silk chiffon overlay.
But it’s the final three looks that’ll be handed to posterity. Taking inspiration from Félix González-Torres’s meditative candy-floor installations, the two dresses and coat that closed the show were made from thousands of candy wrappers grafted onto silk. In probing the ethical and aesthetic potential of found fashion, the Artisanal collection balanced exquisite clothes and conceptual play in equal measure.
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Images: Maison Martin Margiela Couture Spring 2013/MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images