New Documentary Reveals Why Margiela Masked His Models

Fashion films seem to be rolling out hot this year, with Dior And I out in theaters right now, we’re about to add another must-see to your cinematic agenda. The Artist Is Absent – an aptly titled 12 minute documentary disrobing fashion’s man of mystery [Martin Margiela](✓&search=margiela), was recently screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. The short, directed by Alison Chernick, known for her films on artists like [Jeff Koons](✓&search=jeff+koons), and Roy Lichtenstein, is the filmmakers first venture into fashion, and boy did she pick a tough subject. Margiela’s been known for his intense aversion to the spotlight, hardly ever showing his face, but after reviewing Chernick’s work, the maison declared, “You’re the right person to do this.”

The film includes vintage clips from the Margiela archives traveling back to his SS ’91 collection, featuring behind the scenes footage. And be careful, because we have one major spoiler. It’s been revealed that Margiela’s iconic move- the covering of his models’ faces with jeweled and satin masks actually occurred because he couldn’t afford to pay them. Very slick Margiela, very slick.

Viewers are also given a closer look into Marigela’s meticulous methods of creation, and get to witness the extent of which he influenced his peers. With cameos made by [Gaultier](✓&search=gaultier), [Raf Simons](✓&search=raf+simons), and [Suzy Menkes](✓&search=suzy+menkes), the allure that Margiela crafted for himself seeps deeply into the minds of his contemporaries – even they are overwhelmed by the genius that he kept totally private.

Gaultier sheds light on Margiela’s humble nature, “He [Margiela] says, look at my clothes and judge only by my clothes.”

Take a look at the trailer, and if you weren’t at Tribeca this weekend, don’t worry The Artist Is Absent is due for wider release later this month.

Image by Pierre Debusshere for Dazed

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