Maison Martin Margiela NY (Femme)

Maison Martin Margiela NY (Femme)

Photo: Maison Martin Margiela

Type of Place: Designers Women's Clothing

Greta Garbo decided that she wanted "to be alone." Belgian-born, Paris-based fashion designer Martin Margiela wants, at the least, to be *left* alone. He refuses to pose for photos; he does not appear for a bow at the end of his shows. Interviews and other dealings with those outside of his company are reportedly conducted by fax.

His two shops in NYC, one for men and one for women, are as conceptual, chic, and thought-provoking as his clothes. The staff members wear white lab coats; the look is of a performance-art space that happens to contain clothing. These are pieces in which to be creative--and in which to look smashing while doing so. I explored the women's side and admired a mint-green t-shirt with a kimono-like silk-panel tie ($375); a sleeveless white-linen blouse with an aviator-scarf-ish detail ($595); a muted-grey knit jacket with 3/4 sleeves ($365) that looked relaxed enough for a weekend cocktail party but undoubtedly sharp enough for the most fashion-forward business meeting; a sheer, sleeveless tunic in a light cotton with a blue-and-white abstract pattern ($345); and a knit camisole in navy with pockets over the breasts and a tie at the waist ($265). But my favorite item of all seemed also the most simple. Margiela's "Incognito" sunglasses are a "Why didn't everyone else think of that?" stroke of design brilliance. They're straight horizontal bands of plastic. Yes, they have bridge pieces to place over one's nose, like "normal" glasses everywhere, but those pieces are visible only from the inside. To the world, you've got a dark plastic band over your eyes, stretching around to each ear, and that's that. Cool, creative, supremely unfussy, and definitely incognito--like the designer himself. OK, they're not cheap ($595), but hey. When you've become a big star and you need your privacy, these will be the glasses to have.

Though I stumbled in without appropriately chic attire, the staff members here were friendly and answered my questions with no attitude. A lesson learned in junior high applies to grown-up life: The truly cool don't need to be unfriendly to prove their coolness. Secure in themselves, they can approach the world openly. And maybe that's why Margiela avoids the public eye: He doesn't want to be a "known figure" but, instead, a guy on the street like any other. "Incognito" glasses aren't necessary when no one knows what you look like. Bottom line, I loved these clothes and the designer's artistic approach. Come here to be inspired.
  - Pamela Grossman; June 8, 2008

Maison Martin Margiela NY (Femme)
803 Greenwich St 10014
(212) 989-7612