An infringer of rules with a brilliant and, above all, unfettered mind, Martin Margiela elevated fashion to the ranks of an artistic discipline, deconstructing patterns and inventing new silhouettes.
The designer skilfully redefined fashion, disassociating it from the industry without any of its splendour getting lost along the way. He made it a means of conveying a message, with the spotlight on the garments at all times, with no artifice, labels, logos or ego trips.
Persuade —one of the first boutiques to introduce the fashion house to Spain—always championed Martin Margiela’s unique irreverent style. The Bilbao boutique is one of the bastions of the approach to fashion pioneered by Japanese maestros like Kawakubo, Yamamoto, Watanabe or Miyake, whom Margiela interpreted with deeply artistic intimate genius. Founded in 1986, Persuade has forged a leading international name as a boutique, thanks to its rigorous heterogeneous selection of apparel by some of the finest fashion designers of our time.
That is why it was only a question of time for its founder, Rosa Orrantia, to join forces with the Aldama Fabre Gallery to pay tribute not just to this iconic fashion house but to one of the most important eras in the history of fashion.“Martin Margiela’s work united quality and intelligence with a bold distinctive language. This makes him a good exponent of the selection criteria applied by Persuade which we wish to continue sharing with those for whom fashion is a means of expression and a source of satisfaction,” summarize Rosa.
The screening of a documentary about Martin Margiela, first premiered in 2017, and an exhibition of garments and objects by the designer are two examples of the different acts that were held under the slogan We Margiela Bilbao in different places like the Guggenheim Museum or Euskalduna Palace. The audience at the event were also able to immerse themselves in Basque culture through a session of ‘bertsolaritza’ (improvised poetry in Basque), in addition to attending the presentation of the book ‘Charo’ by Daniel Riera.
Martin Margiela never referred to his work in the first person but always in association with the team with whom he founded Maison Martin Margiela. This notion of ‘we’ was transposed by the organizers to the exhibition at the Aldama Fabre Gallery, an exhibition made up entirely of garments and objects specially loaned for the occasion by Persuade’s customers. From among the over 600 garments and items that it received, Persuade chose a selection representative of all the designer’s collections, displayed so as to evoke both the changing rooms used by customers and the boutique itself.
The name of the event that was chosen to pay tribute to the Belgian designer, We Margiela, is also the title of the documentary screened at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in memory of a figure who continues to be cloaked in mystery. At the two screenings, in the morning and afternoon, the audience were able to gain an insight into some of the secrets of the fashion house, thanks to statements by co-founder Jenny Meirens, or they could ask questions that still remain unanswered 17 years after the designer’s departure from the firm. During the subsequent talk, light was shed on certain questions by guests like Eduardo Dentre, Grace T.W. Fisher and Stanislas Maryshev, some of Margiela’s original team. For Rosa, “The presentation of the documentary We Margiela in Bilbao has been a chance to show that his garments–now part of the history of fashion and of the boutique–are not only displayed at exhibitions in museums but that they are still totally valid today: in the case of customers as part of their apparel and, more generally, as a source of inspiration and knowledge.”
We featured Rosa Orrantia as a curator in issue no.9. Read the piece here.