Maison Margiela unveiled its new headquarters in Paris on Sunday night and talked about an upgrade. John Galliano celebrated the move with his latest collection – a poshly deconstructed homage to the Queen of Punk, Jordan, who passed last year.
Before, Margiela’s historic home was a battered old school in the funky 11th arrondissement. Now its HQ is a grand Hausmannian splendour on Place des États Unis, in the golden 16th arrondissement. The building, the former headquarters of Pernod Ricard, is located across the square from Baccarat, France’s classiest glassmaker. A huge bronze equestrian statue of George Washington stands just down the avenue.
The move triples the size of Margiela’s headquarters to 7,000 square meters, enough room for staff of 220. It will help propel future growth, and is part of annual capital investments running at around €20 million.
Maintaining the custom of the founder, the “invisible designer” Martin Margiela, Galliano did not come out for a bow. He fully deserved one for this women’s ready-to-wear collection staged, somewhat curiously, as the final event in the Paris menswear season.
No program notes and no way to question the designer, but the references were clear to Jordan Mooney, the proclaimed Queen of Punk, who died in April 2022.
From the spiky hair or the black graphic facial designs, to the fishnet stockings cut-off half-way down the calf; knickers worn like minis and wacky hats with cocardes, the Jordan influence was evident.
Though Galliano took it all somewhere new with superb inside out trenches; gargantuan A-line coats in blown up plaids; very dramatic bustier and tulle cocktails.
He also showed some great macs and winter coats, courtesy of a linkup with Pendleton, and even sewed the American brand’s label prominently on the outside of several looks.
Pre-show, Renzo Rosso, the Italian fashion billionaire whose empire encompasses Diesel and stellar indie fashion brands like Margiela, Marni, Jil Sander and Viktor & Rolf, was in an ebullient mood.
“I’ll be honest, we really wanted to stay in the 11th in the old schoolhouse for emotive reasons. But they would not sell us the building and there are very few large structures in that part of town. So, we moved here and it’s already looking pretty great,” enthused Renzo, over a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne.
To fete the move, the basement atelier was turned into an art installation with movie seats; video show projections; mannequins wearing the current collection and a battered American convertible – with more mannequins – hanging dramatically off one wall.
Under CEO Gianfranco Gianangeli business has been booming at Margiela, as the brand builds its retail network; upgrades existing stores and moves it price point higher.
“We’ve tripled sales in past three years,” insisted Gianangeli, looking very dapper in a sleek double-breasted suit, its buttonhole finished with a mini version of the Margiela signature four-stitch logo.
People sometimes forget that besides having a hugely fertile imagination, Galliano can also be a very commercial designer. By carefully distilling John’s fantasies, theatrically avant-garde style and deconstructed version of Margiela’s conceptual DNA, the Italian managers have pushed annual sales up close to €400 million.
It’s a pretty impressive achievement. Justly celebrated in tonight’s opening of new headquarters, with a post-show cocktail on the rooftop garden boasting a marvellous view of the Eiffel Tower.
Only a pity, John couldn’t come out and enjoyed a glass, or two.
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