The Fragrance of White
by Claudia Beckmann | May 21, 2009

He is a like a phantom. Almost everybody has heard of him, but hardly anyone has ever seen Belgian fashion designer Martin Margiela. While he has managed to stay as good as invisible for over 20 years now, his oeuvre has been constantly present and truly celebrated.

An exhibition in Milan focuses, however, not on Margiela's person or his works, but on the showrooms and locations (the rooms and venues) where he has presented his creations and where they marvelously came into their own. The show covers 180 square meters and captures the atmospheric magic of the fashion label, with replicas of Maison Martin Margiela Headquarters in Paris and a selection of his shops worldwide.

It is like stepping into a parallel world. The walls and floors are clad with illusionist wallpaper, the furniture and accessories all have white covers, and between them lie toys, painted white, a group of luminaires made of Johnny Walker bottles, and against the wall leans a cupboard that is actually only a door. The objects disappear beneath white drapes and are nevertheless immensely present - like Margiela himself. In this way, the absence of the master is celebrated, as are the things themselves, quite as if life has gone on vacation and the rooms has prepared themselves specially for his absence. Only occasionally does one encounter a member of his staff, carefully clad for the occasion by Margiela - in a white lab coat.

The only enduring element to be perceived here is the striking fragrance so familiar from his shops and which somehow seems to contain a touch of incense. Yet the moment you start thinking about what that might mean, the waft of scent has dissipated and you find yourself on your own again.

All photos © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark
All photos © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark