Maison Martin Margiela in London

Maison Martin Margiela 20 at Somerset House

This summer, Somerset House will host Maison Martin Margiela ’20′ The Exhibition; a major exhibition celebrating 20 years of one of contemporary fashion’s most influential and enigmatic designers.

The exhibition was initiated by MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp and Maison Martin Margiela. Curated by Kaat Debo and Bob Verhelst, the exhibition opened at MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp on September 12 2008. Afterward, it toured to Haus der Kunst in Munich (from March 20th to June 1st, 2009). The show will be specially reconfigured for the Embankment Galleries by Kaat Debo and Somerset House curator Claire Catterall.

A graduate of Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Martin Margiela formerly worked as design assistant to Jean Paul Gaultier before showing his first collection under his own label in 1988. Employing a ‘deconstructivist’ approach – monochromatic palette, oversized garments, non-traditional fabrics, the use of recycled materials and exposing the construction of his clothes – Margiela displayed a radically new visual language that diametrically opposed the power dressing of the 1980s. In deciding to let his fashion speak for itself and remain anonymous, Margiela as a brand is driven by product and sheer invention rather than fad, hype and celebrity often linked to other fashion labels.

This multi-layered exhibition captures Margiela’s unique aesthetic and vision spanning the past 20 years, by incorporating installations, photography, video and film. It will provide an opportunity to learn more about the brand and its philosophy through a visual examination of themes that underpin the essence of the fashion house since its creation – from its deconstructivist, subversive design aesthetic and avant-garde couture to its understated branding, unusual boutique interiors, ‘trompe-l’oeil’ or optical illusion effects and its couture atelier white coats. Various iconic pieces from both the women and menswear collections will be on display, such as the highly replicated ‘Tabi’ boots, as well as specially recreated garments for the exhibition.

Somerset House director Gwyn Miles says we are delighted to bring Maison Martin Margiela’s major retrospective to Somerset House. This forms part of our aim to host an exciting year round programme of contemporary cultural exhibitions and events that reflects current trends in the creative industries, particularly in fashion and design. I hope this exhibition stimulates debate and ideas, and will go some way in establishing Somerset House as a genuine creative hub for London.

Maison Martin Margiela (20) The Exhibition
From June 3rd until September 5th 2010
Somerset House, Embankment Galleries, London
Plan your visit at