Thursday, September 21, 2023

Watch New Documentary on Martin Margiela, ‘The Artist Is Absent’

It seems Spring has been a great time for fashion documentary, with Dior and I being released last month, and now two on Martin Margiela being revealed – the first being a feature-length film by Albert Maysles, titled Iris, and the second, The Artist is Absent, made available to view online, detailing the career of the famously mysterious designer.

Directed by Alison Chernick with support of fashion e-tailer Yoox, The Artist is Absent discussed the Belgian talent, whose clothes rose to fame in the ’90s while he remained hidden from the spotlight – both to comment on the commercial perversion of the industry at the time, and so as not to “feed the beast.”

The short film includes not just a look at the garments that have inspired generations of designers since their creation, but also insight into Mr Margiela’s design signatures – his way with deconstruction – as well as his background, with commentary from fashion journalist and expert, Suzy Menkes and top designers Jean Paul Gaultier and Raf Simons.


Throughout the 11 mins and 50 seconds of the film, Menkes explains;

“He had a real way of doing things that made the clothes unique.”

– And right on cue, we see models’ eyes being painted pre-show backstage, with a thick paint brush you’d more likely use to colour your walls. Later, we’ll see models take to the stage with their faces partially or fully hidden – one of the traits that make clear the catwalk you’re watching belongs to Martin Margiela.

But, as former director of communications for the fashion house, Patrick Scallon explained, not only did the designer not wish to use a model’s persona to sell his clothes, but he couldn’t afford to compete in the industry by booking top model names. In fact;

“Nine out of ten times, if there was a black line over the eyes in the lookbook it’s because we couldn’t pay the rights for the models – we didn’t have the money.”


Concluding on Margiela’s well-documented and equally mysterious departure from the label he built over 2 decades, Raf Simons adds;

“I think that it’s ultimately admirable when a person knows that he or she has said what they had to say, and – basta. It’s what more people should do.”

Another thing people ought to do is watch the documentary in full, which Yoox kindly uploaded to the internet for all to see. Find The Artist is Absent here below and let us know what you think of it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @SPICETVAFRICA.

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