There were many incredible shows at this season's Couture Week, but perhaps the collection that has sparked the most debate is the showing of iconic Belgian house Maison Martin Margiela. In a society that is programmed to associate couture only with the unbridled opulence and drama of the iconic designs of couturiers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Thierry Mugler, this collection came as a surprise. Margiela is renowned for going against the grain - although he left the house in 2009, the collections are still heavily inspired by punk propaganda, and the house has chosen to name their couture line 'Artisanal', claiming it different to other couture collections as it consists mainly of recycled and re-used garments.
As is customary of a Margiela collection, all of the models had their faces obscured by a range of dazzlingly intricate masks - with materials ranging from crystal flowers to navy blue beads, the masks always perfectly complimented the outfits they were paired with and created the signature Margiela aesthetic that distinguishes the house from its contemporaries. However, the house's choice to show jeans on a couture show sparked debate - as couture is infinitely more expensive that ready-to-wear, tradition has taught clients to expect a collection crammed with extravagant coats and gowns as opposed to daywear. On the other hand, I personally love the inclusion of daywear in the couture shows; with the current economic climate, there are less and less people that can afford to spend eeye-watering amounts of money on evening gowns that can only be worn on (extremely) special occasions. In a way it makes sense to incorporate denim into the collections - many justify buying expensive denim as an investment, and these jeans were certainly a cut above high street.
There was also more experimentation in fabric choices - the opening look essentially consisted of blue jeans and a white T-shirt rendered in crisp, fetishistic latex. This was not the only time that latex was used - it was seen again on a series of full-length coats and also to create a stunning collection of knee-high boots, complete with spike detailing on the heel.
As the show progressed, there was a clear sense of a transition from day to night. What began with sharp latex basics soon transformed into floor-length gowns made from ornate tapestry curtains, and there were also looks which incorporated a variety of beautiful flowers stitched to the bottom of billowing robes made from pastel-coloured tulle. While the collection may not have adhered to the (perhaps outdated?) notion of a 'couture' show, there was still enough in the way of beautiful clothing to please the traditionalists. The first half of the show, however, proved that the house of Margiela is still seeking to redefine the way that we see fashion. For the most part, it's working.