Fashion & Beauty / In Pictures

The Margiela Pop-Up Store Opening in a Parisian Porn Cinema

Byronesque has curated a selection of some of the most desired archival pieces from the history of Maison Martin Margiela. The result? Margiela Porn

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Margiela PornCourtesy of Byronesque

There are those that believe Very Important vintage fashion should be handled with white gloves, restraint and an humourless seriousness; then there are those that believe it is best appreciated by having fun with it and that the past should be messed around with a bit in order to propel us into the future, aesthetic or otherwise. The indefatigable Gill Linton, founder and CEO of Byronesque – the insider-adored vintage online destination – is firmly in the latter camp.

This Paris Fashion Week, for two days only, Byronesque presents the Margiela Porn pop-up shop. Hosted in Paris’s last remaining porn cinema, Margiela Porn is the chance to scoop up something from over 300 hard-to-find pieces from legendary designer Martin Margiela’s 1989-2000 collections. As vulgarity is permitted, let’s just say it’s a wet dream for any fan of provocative, groundbreaking design. 

Since launching a little over three years ago, Byronesque has established itself as the go-to platform for what it, somewhat oxymoronically but entirely fittingly, describes as “contemporary vintage”. Linton and the team are an authority on the likes of Comme des Garçons, Helmut Lang, Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood and, of course, Margiela. As the success and reputation of Byronesque grew, private sellers started coming out of the woodwork. When one of these collectors contacted Linton saying they had a haul of 20 years of Margiela they’d like her to look at, she knew the opportunity was too good to pass up. “I literally had to put a poker face on,” she says of seeing the stash. “But when I left, I was like: holy fuck, it’s porn! It’s porn for people who know what they’re looking at,” she continues, talking with a mix of the unbridled passion of a fan girl and the considered enthusiasm of an expert. Linton knew this find, coupled with the pieces they had already gathered, called for one of Byronesque’s offline “fashion retrospectives you can buy”. This is no staid, glass cases, silent, look-don’t-touch affair, however. “We don’t want it to feel like a museum, it’s still got to feel a bit more punk, which is how we always try and do things,” she explains.

The result? Margiela Porn. Fun has been had with the theme. All the paraphernalia of sticky, shadowy porn theatres have been reimagined with a Margiela spin. Tart cards have been duly plastered across Paris to advertise not sexual services but the pop-up (far more delicious, we think you’ll agree); the tagline to the event is ‘You know you want it’. Kitsch porn posters have been reworked too, like the famous Emmanuelle artwork which swaps out the pillowy lips for the toe of the iconic Tabi boots. “Turns out I’m a bit of a dab hand at creating cheesy porn copy, so if it all goes tits up Byronesque I’ve got a career in a different industry,” jokes Linton. But why the porn theatre? Well, for one, its connotations of grubbiness are a nod to Margiela’s deliberate celebration of bad taste. “Margiela always fucked with the traditions of how things were done, he saw beauty in the ugly,” says Linton. “Taking used gloves and turning them into a halter top, for example. Nobody was doing that. Nobody was repurposing or really challenging the notion of what it meant to be fashionable.”

Plenty of those ugly/beautiful pieces will be available at the shop. “We’ve got something from every major collection,” Linton beams, “even one of those 1998 jackets fashioned out of dry cleaning bags – you know, those flimsy bits of plastic that say ‘This is not a toy’ on it – we’ve got one! How nuts is that?” Ever the proud mum, Linton finds it hard to play favourites, but admits to getting excited by the Oversized jeans (“just epic”), the After Party pumps (“so fucked up!”) and the Tabi soles, explaining that although it’s not that difficult to find the boots themselves, the soles, which were taped straight onto the foot, are more of a coup. The comprehensive collection is enhanced by rare artisanal finds from Quidam de Revel, the first time the by-appointment-only vintage legend’s wares will be available to the public. Oh, and should you be fortunate enough to snap something up? Staff will be donning white lab coats, purchases wrapped in brown paper bags, naturally.

The appetite for vintage Margiela is particularly voracious at the moment. “It’s very much a seller’s market right now, the demand is so high. I get hate mail sometimes: ‘I can’t believe you sold that. You knew I wanted it’ but we’ve got a wait list for so many things,” says Linton. She thinks one of the key reasons for this surge in demand is the new energy coming out of Paris right now, the Vetements effect in particular. “People fall into two camps; they’re either pissed off with them and think they’re knocking off Margiela or they love it. [I think] they created an energy that was really lacking in the fashion world and filled an emotional and sartorial gap that was deeply lacking. So when that happened – and we see it with any of our collections, not just Margiela – it created a demand for the original.” She also cites Gucci’s Alessandro Michele as brandishing Margiela’s creativity-over-commerce baton.

This renewed desire for and interest in Margiela can also be considered a rejection of thoughtless fashion and “spilling your guts” on social media. Doesn’t the designer’s deliberate anonymity feel cool by comparison? Isn’t it refreshing? “The people that buy from us and seem to like us are those people who don’t want to be figured out,” says Linton. “That enigma is very important to us. It’s a slight element of ‘you can’t sit with us’. Not to be arrogant or elitist; it’s more about don’t give everything away otherwise there’s nothing exciting to find out – that’s what Margiela did so brilliantly. Leave me something to try and figure out.” This sense of the unknown also informed the choice of the porn venue, “People want what they can’t have, what they don’t really know about. We’re tapping into that. There’s a mystery around what’s behind that door, seeing something a bit taboo.” Race you there.

Margiela Porn pop-up is open for two days on March 4 and 5, 2017, at Le Beverley Adult Cinema, Paris.

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