Martin Margiela outlines pressures of fashion’s fast pace in new letter

Martin Margiela outlines pressures of fashion’s fast pace in new letter

Martin Margiela accepted a Belgian Fashion Award with a letter outlining his gratitude, the pressure of the fast pace of fashion, and how social media has destroyed the ‘thrill of wait’

 

It’s pretty (okay, very) well-known that Martin Margiela is a man of few words and almost total anonymity. But last night, at the Belgian Fashion Awards, the elusive designer made his presence known when he received the night’s grand prize.

Awarded the Jury Prize award for ‘his entire career and his obvious impact on the history of fashion, today’s collections, and more than likely the ones to come’, Margiela responded with a letter – come on, you didn’t think he was actually going to show up, did you?

“I am very touched and indeed honoured to receive this award, here in my native country. Especially because I stepped down from fashion already ten years ago,” the letter read. “This evening my memory goes back to 1983 when I received, here in Brussels, my very first recognition: the second prize of the ‘Golden Spindle’ contest, handed to me by the then only foreign jury member, Jean Paul Gaultier.”

Martin Margiela went on to detail the reason he stepped away from his eponymous label in 2008, citing, like many designers before him, the rapid pace of fashion and the rise of social media as huge pressures on his creative output.

“I felt that I could not cope any more with the worldwide increasing pressure and the overgrowing demands of trade,” he wrote. “I also regretted the overdose of information carried by social media, destroying the ‘thrill of wait’ and cancelling every effect of surprise, which was so fundamental for me.”

Other winners at the awards included Willy Vanderperre, graduate designer Federica Di Leo, and Y/Project’s Glenn Martens, who took home the prize of Designer of the Year. The awards show marked the start of a month-long series of workshops, talks, and installations celebrating Belgian design at Brussels’ MAD Institute. Take a look at the full programme here, and read Martin Margiela’s letter in full below.

I am very touched and indeed honoured to receive this award, here in my native country.

Especially because I stepped down from fashion already ten years ago.

This evening, my memory goes back to 1983 when I received, here in Brussels, my very first recognition: the second prize of the ‘Golden Spindle’ contest, handed to me by the then only foreign jury member, Jean Paul Gaultier.

Many say that fashion has a short memory as it is obsessed by actuality and novelty. But some recent exhibitions about my work exemplified the opposite. Again, my homeland Belgium was the first to honour my work at the MOMU Antwerp, and then my adoptive city Paris followed with two more, at Palais Galliera and Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

A beautiful tribute to a period of hard work and dedication starting at early age and lasting for more than 30 years, until 2008 the very year I felt that I could not cope any more with the worldwide increasing pressure and the overgrowing demands of trade. I also regretted the overdose of information carried by social media, destroying the ‘thrill of wait’ and cancelling every effect of surprise, so fundamental for me.

But today, I am happy to notice again a growing interest for creativity in fashion, by some upcoming designers.

This evening, I feel proud and fulfilled and I wish to thank wholeheartedly all of you for your precious support back then and today’s recognition.”