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Couture MartinMargiela 1998 WorkOnPaper & ArtisanalLine0 WhiteLingerie BoxedSet

About the Item

As conceptual art while he transitioned to Hermes Creative Director in 1998, Belgian Martin Margiela--whose creations today debut in the setting of a contemporary-art gallery priced at upwards of EU$150,000--created this stencil or block print. It is part of a limited-edition-of-two white-boxed set that includes the couture Maison Martin Margiela "Artisanal Line 0" body-harness lingerie in its maker's signature color white for Spring 1998. The same lingerie--one white and the other black--starred in a film made by Margiela among the five that he screened to present his Spring/Summer 1998 "Flat Collection" in Paris at the Conciergerie. In this film titled "4", which begins with a view of the iconic topless tabi "boots", the hands of Margiela's white-labcoat-clad assistants enter the frame to manipulate different garments on a model who wears the exterior lingerie (see our photos) as if jewelry. A simple dark collared coat, a white collared button-down shirt, and a dark button-down cardigan--all with the "displaced neckline" or "displaced shoulder" of the flat-hanging clothes--are transformed into new collarless plunging v-neck garments, which appear to be ruched when folded under the harness of the lingerie. The black-version of the lingerie is in the collection of Martin Margiela's home-country ModeMuseum (MoMu) archived as OBJ7660. Other conceptual designs from this same 1998 collection of jewelry were acquired by TheMet museum in Manhattan. Without the restriction of the use and function of clothing, the small uncreased print--on a card that can be removed from the interior-box bottom that it loosely spans--shows the buyer how to endlessly fashion unique tops using the structural-elastic lingerie as an undergarment for their own pre-worn button-down shirts. This is a more obvious example of the once avant-garde concept of anti-fashion upcycling that Martin Margiela introduced to challenge social and fashion-industry norms by the 1990s, which echos the revolutionary anti-art of Marcel Duchamp. Essentially, valuable art/fashion can be made from everyday vintage objects. While Duchamp did so in 1917 with a men's porcelain urinal titled "Fountain" attached to a gallery exhibition wall, they both made the point that it is the way that such items are reassembled that can make the result a progressive statement. What makes the print so special and worthy of framing for display is that, without words, the three numbered images on a single white card encapsulate the before-its-time fashion manifesto of Martin Margiela to recycle fashion in remarkable new wearable ways, such as harnessed by his unique lingerie. According to The New York Times in its 2021 feature-story that reflected on his radical fashion design and delved into his crossover art, Margiela "changed how we dressed in the 1990s", while his art embodies "the visionary man he has always been." At a turning-point shortly after Margiela designed this couture set in 1997, his personal manifesto became more difficult to accomplish in his fashion career as the new creative director of France's historic luxury fashion-house Hermes, for which his first womenswear collection was presented for Autumn/Winter 1998. Frustrated by the new limitations of the industrialized luxury trade and conglomerate conflicts with his closely guarded privacy, the famously "invisible" designer pre-maturely retired from the fashion industry in 2009 to independently build on his clever artistry in other mediums. Margiela continues to demonstrate what he often told his fashion teams: "The less you have, the more creative you are as a designer." This minimal finely-crafted lingerie without size or gender restriction--composed of adjustable "polya-elasthanne" straps with a clear anti-slip strip on the underside and three silver-tone metal double-rings--can be worn either as a concealed structural undergarment or as a visible jewelry-like body harness in appreciation of its pure form and color. While the initial Maison Martin Margiela ready-to-wear brand tag until the late 1990s was a distinct corner-sewn unbranded white label accompanied by tags for origin and materials/care, the haute-couture version for this lingerie is a single tiny white unbranded tag stitched in a line near the end of the waist strap, noting in English, "Made In France," with succinct material/care identification. The set's original white unbranded box and its white black-typed couture-identification sticker complete the "invisible-brand" aesthetic. We interpret the black-type codes on the aged box-sticker (“E98 ST HAUT; Struct Elas Blanc; 02; TU"): Spring 1998 Haute Couture; white structural-elastic garment; Artisanal Line 0 edition of two; one size only. The print, lingerie and box are in very good condition as shown in the photos with only one mark on the rear edge of the exterior box-lid. Although initially tried on by the sole owner to realize a restructured shirt, the lingerie body-harness was never worn. It was collected in Belgium at the Brussels boutique where Martin Margiela initially sold his brand with his founding business-partner Jenny Meirens since 1988. Prior, Margiela worked for several years as a fashion-design assistant to Parisian Jean Paul Gaultier. Both designers have since received independent museum retrospectives internationally--from Paris' Grand Palais and Musee Palais Galliera (The City of Paris Fashion Museum) to NYC's The Brooklyn Museum and Antwerp's MoMu. While others continue to try, Martin Margiela (b.1957) is the only leading fashion designer to have made a full-time transition to the commercial contemporary-art world with such highly valued works. As a rare revealing piece of both fashion and art history, the increasing value of this Maison Martin Margiela 1997-1998 haute-couture boxed set, including work-on-paper print and functional sculptural object both made by Margiela, can be compared to the 2012 GBP$79,250 auction sale of an Alexander McQueen 2008 commissioned sculptural mini dress among a set of variations, which was sold with a relevant 2012 signed photograph by artist Matt Collishaw for Harper's Bazar UK of the socialite dress-owner modeling it. Margiela's recognized art objects date back to fashion-related drawings and sculptures in the late 1980s, while his first museum exhibition of garments was at Museum Boijmans Van Beuninggen in Rotterdam in 1997 when he produced this couture boxed set.
  • Designer:
  • Brand:
  • Dimensions:
    Marked Size: TU one size only (EU)
  • Style:
    Contemporary Art (In the Style Of)
  • Place of Origin:
  • Period:
  • Material Notes:
    mixed media art as boxed limited-edition-of-two print and couture structural garment for anti-fashion upcycling
  • Condition:
    Wear consistent with age and use.
  • Seller Location:
    Chicago, IL
  • Reference Number:
    1stDibs: LU3244218126742
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