A belated and buoyant documentary portrait of Martin Margiela, celebrated for his trailblazing designs and humble, enigmatic persona within the flamboyant fashion world.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2020
One of the most influential and intriguing figures in recent fashion history, Belgian designer Martin Margiela is the pivotal yet unseen subject of this captivating and sensitive documentary from Reiner Holzemer (Dries, NZIFF17).
A protégé of Jean-Paul Gaultier, Margiela’s anonymity is mythical and an enduring point of industry fascination; during his two decades helming Maison Martin Margiela, he was never photographed, seen or interviewed by the press – any communication was conducted via fax. The mystery deepened when he walked away from the industry without warning in 2009. It is here that the film begins, with his final show, before tracing his childhood, education and career with gentle revelation.
Finally voicing his story, Margiela discusses his groundbreaking work and enduring legacy. Much of what the 63-year-old pioneered – street casting, reissues and upcycling – is now commonplace. By allowing him to remain faceless Holzemer reinforces the power of Margiela’s reticence; we don’t need to see his face to understand his work and appreciate its impact, and now in the midst of a dramatically shifting industry, Margiela’s enduring critique of pace and publicity feels more relevant than ever. — Emma Gleason
“Holzemer’s film is not so much about where Martin Margiela is in 2019 – the designer speaks of painting and sculpting, though those pursuits are not shown in the documentary – or what he might do in 2020, but about the 20 years from 1989 to 2009 during which Margiela operated his eponymous label… As the movie seeks to illustrate, Margiela did almost everything that is on trend in contemporary fashion first… Of course, what Margiela also did first was what he did last: Leave fashion for good… [But] the legend of Martin Margiela lives on. And then there’s always the promise of his return.” — Steff Yotka, US Vogue
About the Filmmaker
Reiner Holzemer is a Munich-based documentarian best known for his fashion, music and photographic artist profiles. Selected filmography: Dries (2017), Anton Corbijn: Most Wanted (2014), William Eggleston: Photographer (2008).