Martin Margiela in San Francisco

John Gallianos work for the Martin Margiela label is on display in San Francisco in a historic Frank Lloyd Wright building, Maison Margiela at 134 Maiden Lane. Interiors designed by the Margiela team for the two-story, 2,900 square foot space are in typical Margiela surrealist style. Optical illusions, or trompe l’oeil, as they say in France, upside down hangers, backwards pictures in a palette of mostly black and white with a red lips sofa by Bocca, similar to the original design bySalvadore Dali. Shoppers can find men’s and women’s ready-to-wear and runway collections, bags, jewelry, shoes and fragrance.

n the 1980s, Belgian designer Martin Margiela helped set the groundwork for limitless possibilities in fashion design by introducing a style concept known as deconstruction. His clothes challenged many a discerning eye with inside-out seams, extraordinarily long arms and the use of bizarre materials such as canvas and wigs.

The House of Martin Margiela launched in 1989, its clothing labels recognized by a discreet trademark consisting of a piece of cloth with numbers 0-23. Margiela preferred to remain relatively unknown as his clothes gained popularity; he was rarely seen in public and all media contact came through outside sources – think faxes and phone calls with personal assistants. His unabashed socially reclusive behavior paired with his undeniable talent set Margiela apart and led to a greater fashion following for the brand.

In October 2009, Maison Margiela, the company, became in name only, as the designer disappeared from the creative process and left his design team to pick up the pieces. They staged silent marches in Paris and San Francisco to launch a brand collaboration with H&M in November 2012. In October 2014, British designer John Galliano, removed from the helm at Givenchy for anti-semitic remarks, became Maison Margiela’s creative director, and promised to bring the brand full circle in design genius.

Galliano is known for his rather triumphant approach to fashion and he spares no expense with his most recent collections. Raw edges, incorporation of metals, lab coats with matching latex gloves and elaborate headpieces are finding their way back into the newest collections, turning what was Margiela into a reality once more. For women there are hand painted pieces, daisy skirts, kimonos, daisy rings and earrings so large they speak for you. For men, avant-garde silk printed button down shirts with billowy, scarf-like sleeves.

The grand opening celebration for Maison Margiela San Francisco on April 23, 2015, was hosted bySabrina Buell, Yves Béhar, Alicia Engstrom and Hosain Rahman in honor of the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts at California College of the Arts.


Originally published for Red Carpet Bay Area on May 17, 2015.