Saturday, August 15, 2020

Another fashion film hits: Reiner Holzemer's MARTIN MARGIELA IN HIS OWN WORDS

Who? might well be the response of many -- particularly those who do not follow the fashion world religiously -- to the name Martin Margiela. After viewing the new documentary, MARTIN MARGIELA IN HIS OWN WORDS, however, you'll probably more easily remember this unusual guy. His aversion to publicity for himself, especially of his face (no photographs, please!), is something rare in this field. These days, in just about any field. 

Early on in this oddball documentary, written and directed by German filmmaker Reiner Holzemer (shown below), Margiela notes how important for him is a certain kind of anonymity: "I wanted to have my name linked to the product I created, not to the face I have." And so we never see that face during then entire documentary, and one begins to wonder how many other people have actually seen it, ever.

We do see his arms and hands, and a very attractive pair of each he has -- if these are even his own (for all we know he may have insisted on using a body double). We also see a good deal of his fashion concepts. Initially, to TrustMovies at least, these looked like the designer was having us on, maybe in the manner of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, thumbing his nose at everything and everyone, including the fashion industry and himself.

Yet as the film proceeds, you realize that fashion, as this fellow sees it, is very important. Whatever you think of his work (I found much of it downright ugly, though I also thought that his designs for Hermès were as beautiful, classy and elegant as any I've seen), you will probably come away from this doc with respect for the man and at least some of his ideas. 

The film's title tells us that we're getting Margiela's own words, and to a large extent we do. We also get the usual fashion doc format of talking heads -- journalists, critics and other fashion folk -- who go on and on about the brilliance of the subject at hand. In this case, because what we're told makes a certain amount of sense and is kept within the bounds of appreciation rather than idolization, it tends to register as real. And while comparison is made between Margiela's oeuvre and that of Andy Warhol, I'd call what Margiela gives us one hell of a lot more intelligent, thoughtful and creative than that of the overblown Warhol.

Just as we get no photos of Margiela, we don't get a whole lot of personal info about him, either. A little childhood history is tossed in (the Barbie dolls he played with and dressed), as are the importance of his mother, his admiration for Brigitte Bardot, and his time spent with mentor Jean Paul Gaultier. (How he and his pals got into Gaultier's fashion show makes an especially charming anecdote.)

Buyouts, money, branding and so much else that passes for necessity in our current times seem to have led to what you might think of as Margiela's "fall." Really, though, this is more like simply "moving on." I should think we'll be hearing from the guy again. If he wants us to, that is. (That's one of his specially designed women's shoes, above.)

From Oscilloscope Films and running 95 minutes, Martin Margiela in His Own Words opened in virtual theaters this past week  and is "now playing" all across the country. Click here then scroll down to see the venues from which you can choose.

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