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Hide and Seek with Maison Martin Margiela

Img_0478Do you know what Martin Margiela looks like? Neither does anyone else. He refuses to be photographed. He is the only major designer who has actually never had a logo. Is it any surprise that his first boutique in the U.S. is practically hidden from view? He is either hopelessly pretentious, or incomparably clever, or both depending on your point of view. Nevertheless, since he is the first prominent Belgian designer to open a boutique on these shores, The Shophound decided to hunt for this mysterious new shop, and nearly walked right by its Greenwich Street location because it’s disguised as a dingy junk shop. It even has a realtor’s sign pasted where a window should be. More after the jump

Img_0476_1The Giveaway Hint: a window box full of whitewashed plastic flowers, a creepy touch indicating something more than a vacant store on a quiet street. Dare to enter the store and find yourself in an art installation. It looks like a junk shop on the inside, too, but with just enough esoteric touches to betray its true identity. Is that cardboard box in on the floor newly delivered stock, or a display fixture? Normally, his sort of thing irritates The Shophound. He has never taken to the concept of store design overshadowing the actual product. Two things save this shop. The first is a low key but welcoming staff who will pay attention without hovering and fussing, a plus when you are in a location that is unlikely to be teeming with crowds. They will let you browse freely without feeling pressured. The second is the eminently appealing merchandise. Margiela’s look is not for everyone, but for a designer who makes a big show of avant-garde eccentricity (inscrutable press materials, bizarre runway presentations), his sophisticated collections are remarkably easy to wear, garnering him a small but devoted following. His experience designing for Hermès has obviously rubbed off on his namesake collections. The merchandise largely consists of simple, classic pieces with just enough rarefied detail to keep them interesting. The shop carries all of his various product lines, each represented by a number. There are the expected signature showpieces like the boots that make your feet look like cloven hooves, but if these are not your cup of tea, you will probably prefer the creamy, caramel leather stiletto pumps from the line composed entirely of meticulously reproduced vintage pieces. Most of the assortment leans towards the artfully deconstructed as in the main women’s collection. Explore further and find the men’s collection in the rear room featuring simple, classic pieces in luxurious materials such as a perfectly realized leather jacket or trousers with just enough details to keep them from looking generic. The Shophound admits that he had never been fully compelled by Margiela’s collections when he saw them in other stores, but pulled together under one roof, their appeal reveals itself. If you can find the store, that is.

Maison Martin Margiela Boutique 803 Greenwich St New York, NY 10014 212.989.7612

Shop for Martin Margiela here


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