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MartinMargiela 1990 1stRetrospectiveCollection1994 Sheer Black Convertible Apron

About the Item

Dating this minimalist convertible transparent black chiffon rectangular garment by Belgian former fashion designer Martin Margiela to Spring 1994 among his many variations of the traditional waiter-style apron that he reworked with his eponymous Maison Martin Margiela since its first collection for Spring/Summer 1989, the iconic corner-stitched textural white-cotton brand label is stenciled with seemingly contradictory text referencing an earlier collection in Fall 1990. Instead of the blank label that had become internationally recognized among the fashion elite within the brand's initial five years--before the presence of any other tag printed with the designer name--this black print was added in this manner for only one collection during its founder's tenure. The distinct typography specified the collection season when the new Margiela design had debuted since he selected favorites to re-edition from his first 10 fashion shows. This season-less self-curated retrospective collection without any new designs was unprecedented in the ready-to-wear fashion industry, which sold only new clothes typically two to five times annually. In the early 1990s, this old-made-new-again collection was astonishing for a Paris-based high-end brand, for which any lack of fresh designs for Spring had otherwise been attributed to the loss of an artistic director or the outbreak of war. Nevertheless, there are subtle differences of color, material and draping possibilities that make our re-edition unique from the 1990 apron and from later "replicas", which was the term that Margiela printed on a different kind of label for his second self-curated retrospective in Spring 1999 following 10 more collections. Aside from the text-printed brand label with four characteristic hand-sewn corner stitches, the only other element that unified Margiela's first collection of favorites was that all the items were overdyed a darker color so that the clothes were various shades of grey, blue or black depending on the original color of the textile and how much dye the thread/yarn absorbed. The first Margiela apron design that debuted in his S/S 1989 show was white. In a silk-like floaty gossamer fabric suggesting a dress lining based on its smoothness, airiness, lack of pattern, and transparency, our matte 100% polyester apron in an extraordinarily fine weave was cut to allow for sewn folded hems with ribbons topstitched to two corners on one of the longer sides, which gives the noted women's US-size 6 the most styling possibilities--although it can be worn by virtually anyone in more than one way. Here, the ribbons are not flat opaque woven cotton nor spaghetti-shaped material like in earlier collections but a translucent weave, so likely a linen-blend associated with Spring/Summer collections. As we have sold multiple Margiela aprons over the years, what strikes us about this one is the sharpness and color-changing possibilities of the beautiful draping that make the overlay look like an entirely different garment even though we styled the rectangular fabric in our photos in some of the same ways as other aprons (compare to our listing for a black Tyvek apron from Margiela's "dress form" collection). Also unique, the stacked material/origin/size tags are positioned to enable the apron to drape most attractively as a wrapped dress tied at the back of the neck, while the more tightly-spaced folds at the crossover point above the breasts become opaque to mask them. Perhaps our buyer will twist the apron into a turban hat or wear it belted as a backless gilet. To us, the only surprising thing about the thoughtful crafting of our garment with thin opaque borders is that the stenciled print that "defaces" the brand label can be seen through the back of the label and its overlaying sheer fabric. This enables viewers to easily read the text backwards to know the 1990 genesis from Margiela's second Fall collection. Margiela wanted the public to learn from which season/year the designs stemmed, as he had used black makeup to decorate the necks or arms of his collection-debut models with the abbreviated letters/numbers. Being a very early piece from among his two-decade run as the leader of his Maison, our see-through apron is priced high due to its age, scarcity in good condition, many styling options, and suitability for formal wear. In excellent condition without signs of wear on the ribbons, tags or construction, there is only one almost imperceptible flaw to be found as a single thin pulled thread. In our photos that attempted to highlight it while the apron is wrapped into a dress (versus styled as a one-armed midi dress or wrapped maxi skirt) look closely at the front right hip of the mannequin near the end of the diagonal draping for a faint ripple, which is not apparent when the garment otherwise hangs straight or is folded flat. Fortunately, for the buyer who wants to completely conceal it, Fall 1990 was also when Margiela debuted "permanent" wrinkles and linear creases in his clothes, whose patterns suggested that garments had been discarded due to wear with old age or forgotten while in long-term folded storage. We have seen a subsequent Margiela apron variation that was accompanied by a printed instruction tag illustrating the intentional texture, which can be recreated most easily with an iron. For linear creases in a grid pattern, press it while repeatedly folding the fabric to result in a flat square like a boxed scarf. Or press multiple short narrow disconnected irregular folds to achieve a crumpled appearance. At the pinnacle of his acclaim as a progressive fashion-house founder following his dual role as Hermes womenswear artistic director between 1997-2003 and his fourth Maison Martin Margiela self-curated retrospective in Spring 2009, privacy-motivated Martin Margiela unexpectedly retired from fashion to pursue making art independently, which he continues to sell successfully through galleries unlike any previous leading fashion designer. As the champion of upcycling vintage clothing into contemporary couture and of offering ready-to-wear luxuries that illuminated the value of great design often with low-cost and minimal materials, his enormous impact on the fashion industry in a mere 20 years cannot even be rivaled by legendary 20th-Century figures like Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, who enjoyed several more decades than Margiela as a trend-setting designer. For additional rare Margiela 1994-retrospective clothing, please see our other listings, such as an Artisanal "Line 0" overdyed grey viscose v-neck pullover that was constructed by hand based on the original 1992 design made from upcycled knit hiking socks/leggings.
  • Designer:
  • Brand:
  • Dimensions:
    Marked Size: IT40/US 6; one size can fit most (EU)
  • Style:
    minimalist (In the Style Of)
  • Place of Origin:
  • Period:
  • Material Notes:
    The designer encouraged buyers since Fall 1990 to add crease or wrinkle patterns to his fabrics that can be impressed with an iron to appear discarded in old age or forgotten since folded in storage.
  • Condition:
    Wear consistent with age and use.
  • Seller Location:
    Chicago, IL
  • Reference Number:
    1stDibs: LU3244222701972
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