PFW: MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA F/W 2014

We are, for better or for worse, at that point in this slew of fashion weeks where trends have largely been defined and no longer look fresh and invigorating to those of us who have seen them over and over and over again. While the looks may be new to a particular label, unless the designer does something very dramatic and different, trend elements at this point are just down-right yawn worthy. Such is the challenge Maison Martin Margiela faced this evening, and I’ll be honest, I had difficulty staying awake.

What this forces us to do, however, is focus on the ways in which Maison Martin Margiela does things differently, and given the history of this label, you know they’re going to do things differently. Let’s start with the layered slip dresses, or at least what appear to be layered slip dresses as they’re coming at you down the runway. They’re nice, elegant, two differently colored layers of silk, much as we’ve seen in other collections. But when the models turn, and given the uniqueness of the runway at Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild they had their backs to cameras quickly before turning back around, what one sees is not silk but a blue denim back with the Maison white label in the center. The layered look in front is but a careful illusion with a very unfinished and different look in back. This is certainly something that will be a conversation at any party one attends wearing these dresses, and may well present some difficulty for one to be found in a crowd.

There is a country-side feel to the entire collection, which is not a bad thing at all; there are even some ruby red slippers in case your name is Dorothy and you own a dog. We see the extra-long sweater sleeves, practically a staple in every collection, attached to a brown tweed suit. A gray tweed coat over the slip dress almost looks as though the wearer might have been rousted from bed to go check on the cattle. Jumpers that, with the denim look especially, almost come off as overalls look downright quaint and homey despite their precise tailoring. And those thigh-high boots we’ve been seeing everywhere? They’re a little loose and flexible here and more than once look as though they might be good for wading a stream while fly fishing or perhaps shoveling something out of the barn.

Not that everything is bordering on hayseed. There are well-refined dresses and prints in the collection. On red dress especially stands out because it is like a bright beacon compared to an otherwise muted palette. The problem with those pieces, almost every one of them, is that shoulder pads are excessive, bringing back a type of 1980s look that no one really liked back in the 80s, either.

There is a lot of denim and a lot of silk in this collection and it is surprising just how well the two play together. Most looks are cinched at the waist with a thin belt and hems are all at or below the knee. Pants are roomy and billow as one walks, which could be a problem if one were actually on a farm and around machinery. I rather doubt any of these looks travel too terribly close to a tractor in real life, though.

In an atmosphere that makes it difficult to stand out, the design team at Maison Martin Margiela manages to find ways of making their clothes sufficiently different . Pay attention. Take notes. This is a very strong brand you’ll want hanging in your closet this fall.

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