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Written by Gunner Park
April 27, 2020

Martin Margiela is one of the iconic eponymous figures in contemporary fashion. Yet, there is lack of proper reference when exploring the designer’s influences, inspirations, and motives. His pieces typically lack any external branding, save for four white stitches and a removable tag featuring a sequence of numbers. While these motifs are synonymous with Margiela’s mainstream success, few can readily explain the significance behind each number, stitch, or detail. Just as Margiela maintained a secluded profile through out his career, there isn’t much supplementary information in regards to his work. Considering the designer’s vast range of offerings—spanning garments, jewelry, household objects, fragrances, and more—sifting through Margiela’s archives is no easy feat. To make this task a bit simpler, we created a comprehensive guide documenting the organization and explanations of Margiela’s various collections.

Line 0 - Artisanal

Upcycling materials and second-hand items are at the heart of Margiela's design ethos.The "Artisanal" collection exemplifies Margiela's legacy of referential deconstruction and the decay of time. Each piece released under the "Artisanal" collection is skillfully transformed into a brand new creation. The number '0' denotes this collection, which is typically presented twice a year. Each garment is presented alongside an explanation card documenting its collections, reference, description, color, production quantity, production timeframe, and size.

Totally White Label

The "Show" Collection (or the Totally White Label) was Margiela's inaugural collection for women's ready-to-wear in Spring/Summer 1989. The show was viewed more as performance art than a typical fashion show as traditional high gloss shows were the norm. Chiffon and sheer nylon views draped models' faces so the audience would focus solely on the clothing. The "Show" Collection was created to be separate from Line 1, given 4 four white stitches visible on the exterior instead of a number. The collection was only sold off-the-runway

Line 1 - The Collection for Women

Line 1 is regarded as Margiela's first collection for women. The Spring/Summer 1989 collection is regarded as a "collection in which Maison Martin Margiela expresses its love for concept, design, and process, for creativity and the avant-garde." Line 1 embodies Margiela's uncompromising attitude towards established conventions in the fashion industry. Through means of deconstruction and transformation, Line 1 created a framework for all future Margiela collections.

Line 3 - Fragrances

Each Margiela atelier is known to use patchouli essence sticks, making it Maison's fascination with olfactory all the more understandable. The fragrance line is a subsidiary of L'Oreal's Luxury Products Division. The Maison's first fragrance, named (untitled), debuted in 2008. In 2011, the Maison launched (untitled) l'eau. One year later, Margiela re-packaged the "Replica" concept to design three unique fragrances: "Flower Market," "Beach Walk," and "Funfair Evening."

Line 4 - A Wardrobe for Women

While Line 1 is deemed the collection for women, Margiela introduced line 4 to complement his inaugural vision. Line 4 was first introduced in Spring/Summer 2004 and is predicated on the notion of timelessness. Before contemporary fashion labels offered their take the "uniform," Margiela designed his clothing with taste and longevity in mind. The construction, fabrication, and fit of each garment is thoughtful and allows women to create the perfect wardrobe for all seasons.

Line 8 - Eyewear Collection

Line 8 was first introduced in Spring/Summer 2008 with the label's eponymous "Incognito" shades. Futuristic in its design influences, these visor-style sunglasses feature a large wrap-around frameless build. The L'Incognitos give the illusion of a censor bar over the eyes, a nod to Margiela's design philosophy of masking the body to create a simple canvas for his works. Much like the rest of Margiela's work, these shades exude a cerebral, minimalist quality while retaining an element of wearability.

Line 10 - The Collection for Men

In essence, Lines 10-14 represent the men's collections. Known as the men's version of Line 1, Line 10 is Margiela's inaugural collection for men. The collection was first introduced in Spring/Summer 1999. While the collection included Margiela's first garments for men, today it is known for its more casual and relaxed silhouettes that don't necessarily mesh with Margiela's sartorial staples.

Line 11 - Accessories for Men and Women

Line 11 is a mixed line for both men and women that includes a range of unisex accessories launched in January 2005. Some of Line 11's most popular offerings include bags, belts, small leather goods, and various jewelry products. Today Line 11 is best known for Galliano's 5AC handbags released in 2016.

Line 12 - A Collection of Fine Jewelry

Also known as the "Héritage" collection, Line 12 is an assortment of fine jewelry inspired by traditional and emblematic family jewels. It is created in collaboration with the Damiani Group in 2008. The Maison sought to rewrite ancestral ties and infuse them with a sense of versatility and freedom. The "Héritage" collection is divided into several themes, including "Alliance," "Chevaliére" and "Pompadour." From split rings to unorthodox heirlooms, Line 12 is the epitome of unconventional luxury.

Line 13 - Objects and Publications

While working on an interior architecture project in 1998, Margiela was inspired to create a collection of "White Objects" that could be displayed alongside his work. The color white is synonymous with Martin Margiela, a symbol of uniformity, purity, and modernity. Disparate objects such as pots, books, and even Rubix Cubes are painted white to become part of a single entity.

Line 14 - A Wardrobe for Men

First introduced for Spring/Summer 2005, Line 14 is the mainline collection for men. Line 10 was the original mainline collection but is now reserved for more obscure pieces from the Maison. As such, Line 14 features a range of staple basics such as shirts, sweatshirts, and trousers. The "Sartorial" collection—a capsule collection identified by curved darting or gold embroidery—is also part of Line 14. The "Sartorial" collection utilizes traditional savoir-faire techniques developed by tailors in Naples and Savile Row. The internal structure of all coats and jackets feature horsehair, offering a longevous and impeccable fit.

Line 22 - A Collection of Shoes for Men and Women

During his debut solo show in 1988, Martin Margiela singlehandedly obliterated foot- based conservatism with the introduction of his new fashion house's split-toe Tabi. From that point on, the Maison carried a small seasonal assortment of shoes as part of Line 1 and Line 10. By August/Winter 2005, the Maison created a single collection for all of its footwear and opened a laboratory dedicated to footwear design. Today, Margiela's most ubiquitous footwear includes the Tabi and the classic German Army Trainer Replicas.

Replica Line

For each season, Margiela released a group of "Replica" items alongside Lines 4 and 14. These "Replica" garments include existing Margiela pieces that were cherished by the designer. The "Replica" collection seeks to reproduce these pieces and illuminate why they are so crucial to the legacy of the Maison. Each "Replica" piece is accompanied by a second label documenting original, function, and the unique collection.

MM6 - Women's Diffusion Line

For each season, Margiela released a group of "Replica" items alongside Lines 4 and 14. These "Replica" garments include existing Margiela pieces that were cherished by the designer. The "Replica" collection seeks to reproduce these pieces and illuminate why they are so crucial to the legacy of the Maison. Each "Replica" piece is accompanied by a second label documenting original, function, and the unique collection.


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