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We certainly didn't need to sip the champers they were serving at the press preview to indulge in the full luxe vibe of Maison Martin Margiela's Fall/Winter 2011 collections. And though the lines are all strikingly wearable, they are the result of high concept studies in fabrication, deconstructionism and proportion, deftly balancing sophistication and whimsy. All this headiness seems appropriate for entering the "back to school" mode of the crisper months, swathed in cozy knits and fur, and dotted with rich punches of color to offset the usual somber neutrals.
The "something for everyone" textural palette of the women's collection ranges from maxi skirts of demure pleating to buttery leather, the nubby wool of a boyfriend sweater to goat-hair collars that channel '70s rocker, plush rabbit fur to mod-inspired pleather coat-dresses. The variety could point to inconsistency if there wasn't a through-line in the approach of reinterpreting outwear and underwear fabrics and structures. Animal skins are made delicate with embossed floral patterns for daywear. Coats are converted into jackets and overskirts. Negliges and fishnet stockings are transformed into tops and leggings. Menswear cuts are reimagined into their feminine counterparts. Moreover, individual items themselves defy simple classification, like the draped black jersey cocktail dress that releases into a floor-lenghted column gown, or the fitted skirt of a sweater-dress that folds inside to become a bandeau underneath the top. (When you're spending a small fortune on clothes, it's nice to get your money's worth by having multiple pieces in one.) All of these devices serve to represent the woman on-the-go, throwing on clothing and manipulating it to suit her needs regardless of the initial intended purpose, reflecting a creativity and versatility that's as fun as it is practical.
The men's collection is punctuated by pristine craftsmanship, bringing a bespoke quality to even the most casual garments. The standout pieces are those that combine contrasting elements, such as a sheepskin coat with horizontal stripes that harkens SoCal surfer, or the typically staid gray wool duster that boldly features a white and bordeaux check. There is also a strong military influence, embodied in a modern leather bomber jacket and wool patchwork pea coat, rounding out the basic pants, sweaters and button-downs.
Finally, we got a taste of the MM6 collab with Opening Ceremony (and some pieces that we might actually be able to afford alongside our rent!) hitting stores this September. Following the women's collection, this more casual line offers similarly convertible selections. A v-neck cardigan sweater has removable sleeves that unbutton to create a backless knit tank. Leather jackets have zip-away sleeves and separate from their nylon linings to reveal stylish windbreakers. And shoes even come with mix-and-match boot inserts to alter the height of the upper. As we look to stretch our dollars while refreshing our wardrobes, this "3-in-1" concept capsule will be one to invest in come fall. (Story and photos by Claire Heath)
· Maison Martin Margiela [Official Site]