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BEFORE AND AFTER FASHION: A PROJECT FOR ARTFORUM BY MARTIN MARGIELA

RECYCLED STYLE? Antifashion provocation? High fashion’s answer to a grungy zeitgeist? These are a few of the dubious epithets that have greeted Martin Margiela’s clothes since his debut. Spring/Summer ’89 collection. Add to them the promiscuous moniker deconstruction and it is plain that not only have Margiela’s clothing disconcerted and shocked, they have also been misunderstood.

It was this latter designation that gained currency in the Anglo-American press as Margiela’s signature “unfinished” look made its way abroad from Belgium, and he, Ann Demeuleemester, and Dries van Noten came to be seen as a movement—all three studied at Antwerp’s Academie Royale des Beaux Arts. But despite this particular term’s pedigree—it was the catchall for the French invasion of American lit crit that made the notion of “the death of the Author” a campus commonplace in the U.S.—the cliché of the vanguard

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