As Vogue put it, ‘Martin Margiela first got the fashion world thinking in 1989, with a collection that challenged what luxury could be.’ A graduate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, he was part of a ground-breaking group of Belgian designers who emerged from the design school in 1980 – putting Antwerp on the map as a fashion force to be reckoned with
The Martin Margiela label was launched in 1988, and during his tenure, the designer remained very much backstage – never giving an interview, never being photographed. Arriving on the scene at the end of a decade which exemplified status and extravagance, his debut took the fashion world by storm – and the term ‘deconstruction’ was coined, to describe clothes which ranged from beautifully cut jackets fashioned from ripped tulle ballgowns through to evening dresses fashioned from leather butcher’s aprons.
The influence of Maison Margiela can’t be underestimated. And in 2010, a retrospective was staged at London’s Somerset House, showcasing some of the ground-breaking, often deconstructed designs which have become the signature of this very ‘different’ fashion house. At once masculine and feminine, often fusing the two genders, the brand’s universe has been described as ‘conceptual and enigmatic, mysterious and iconoclastic.’ But at the same time, always elegant.
The shows themselves are always thought-provoking and daring. The collections have been shown, variously, on huge round dining tables in a dilapidated warehouse space, in disused subway cars, and in the stairwell of a crumbling town house. Today, one of the fashion world’s most creative talents, John Galliano, continues Martin Margiela‘s work under the label.
To be sure, when it came to launching fragrance, then, Maison Margiela‘s offering was always going to be something different – and the Maison Margiela Replica fragrances have seduced bloggers, perfume-lovers and fashionistas alike since they were first unveiled. Captured in bottles reminiscent of apothecary jars, with cotton labels echoing tags on the clothing, they have been created to evoke familiar scents and moments in different locations. As blogger and influencer InTheFrow comments: ‘Maison Margiela have nailed each and every scent in the collection – obviously setting out to replicate a fragrance that many can relate to, whether it’s a walk along the beach on your holidays, smothered in coconut sunscreen, or waking up in fresh sheets and smelling that wonderful, clean scent.’
Replica Beach Walk, for instance (below), time-travels us back to the Corsican region of Calvi in 1972: a stroll along the ocean, with feet sinking into the sand, waves brushing sun-kissed salty skin, and the sun at its zenith radiating the beach. Replica Flower Market, above, really is exactly that: close your eyes and get the crisp petal freshness of freshly-cut flowers, wet petals, buckets and vases brimming with water, leaves on the floor, in a beautiful fusion that conjures up Paris.
Replica Under the Lemon Trees brings us the quintessential summer Cologne, inviting us to ‘take a nap under the lemon trees while you indulge in sparkling citrus scents, refreshing green leaves and the warm Mediterranean breeze.’ If you’re more the type to curl up with a book…? Contrastingly, Whispers in the Library cosily evokes the memory of a quintessentially English library, conjuring up the atmosphere of turning pages and waxed woods. Meanwhile, perhaps leaning towards masculinity is At the Barber’s, evoking a classic barber’s shop with its aromatic notes of a basil accord and black pepper, on a warm, leathery base of tonka and white musks.
We’ve always believed in perfume’s power to enable us to travel through time and space with a single spritz – and these creations, from some of the world’s leading perfumers, are accomplished, beautiful and unexpected, transporting us to locations and moments in time as only fragrance can. Each and every one of the Maison Margiela Replica fragrances is absolutely worth sniffing out, by any perfume-lover – for there’s something for everyone, here.
The design house itself may be one of the fashion world’s most enigmatic – but these fragrances are secrets which most definitely deserve to be widely shared. Enjoy…