Fall 2014 Haute Couture: Maison Martin Margiela inspired by Poiret, Lampas and Van Gogh

A central tenet of Maison Martin Margiela's couture offering may be repurposing — but it’s not simply about recycling old fabrics. In the case of the Belgian house’s Fall/Winter 2014 Artisanal collection, new leases of life were given to things like a Paul Poiret coat that was bought earlier this year at auction in Drouot in Paris, teamed with a makeshift skirt embroidered with old coins found in a flea market in Paris and Brussels. Indeed, the collection ran the gamut of textile history, transforming a Second Empire lampas (a rich woven silk often enriched with gold and silver thread) with a yellow brocade into an asymmetrical dress; fashioning a Louis XV lampas into a bodice; mixing two Second Empire lampas in the Regency and Napoleon III styles to create a bustier dress; and assembling different types of laces, made circa 1800 to 1920, into one bustier. Elsewhere, a 20s-era panel dress was altered into a child’s party costume, then disassembled, then restored, then patchworked again, this time with embroidered samples of plant motifs into an ensemble that was paired with a Japanese “Souvenir bomber jacket” from the 1940s.

Particularly effective was a blue-and-green dress comprising giant embroidered irises that immediately brought to mind Van Gogh’s “Irises” painting, while a larger-than-life embroidered lobster worn as a shawl over a bustier dress conjured the spirit of Elsa Schiaparelli.