Jun 22, 2013

The Belly of the Beast

While Martin Magiela made a splash in spring 2009 with his wig jackets (below), I was unaware of his Fall 2005 Artisinal Collection that included a jacket, top and collar utilizing the reverse of wigs. By reversing the wigs, the patterning and decoration produce a wonderful tactile texture, formed by the wigs' interior stitching and elastic construction.

"Artifice is a standard tool of the fashion system, but Margiela is uniquely adept and willing to expose it for all to see. Just as Margiela turns a garment inside-out to flaunt its construction, so the artifice behind contemporary beauty itself is revealed and hence called into question."1

While Margiela is no longer involved with his namesake company, while he was a designer he consistently questioned orthodox notions of beauty and attraction. In both his 2005 and 2009 collections those questions relate to the seduction and revulsion of hair. Sure, this is not real hair. Rather it's fake hair but with the finest level of workmanship applied to it, thus calling into question an essential paradox of luxury - that its value rarely lies in anything of literal material worth. 

Are these wiggy fashion objects really something we should want to wear? Margiela taps into cultural anxieties about taste, attractiveness, and being "cool." Oh no, could fake really be better than real? What would it mean if i wanted to wear human hair? Am I grotesque? Am I hip? Is this fashion? These objects sit uneasily on a narrow ledge between that special and elusive sensation of desire that is called up by fashion and the revulsion fed by the common subtext of self-hatred we feel towards our body, its features and its functions.

1. "Mind Games" by Alex Fury,  December 11 2008, showstudio.com