Maison Martin Margiela's Grid of Hands

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Maison Martin Margiela S/S89 - A/W98
Maison Martin Margiela S/S89 - A/W98

A chic chart of an unusual fashion house tradition wins the Loves vote for AnOther's fashion coordinator Mhairi Graham

In keeping with their position as the most inscrutable of design houses – dubbed their namesake “fashion's very own J.D. Salinger” – Maison Martin Margiela do things differently. Where others mark a new season with a glamorous and enigmatic title, the Maison chooses to ask a member of their design team to write the year on their hand and record it by Xerox. A grid of these handprints – dating from the first ever collection for S/S89 up to A/W98 – has just won the Loves vote for AnOther’s fashion coordinator Mhairi Graham, as well as prompting a treasure hunt into the intriguing world of Margiela.

At AnOther, we’ve always been fascinated by the world of MMM. Their clothes are unique, bypassing the trend-led banalities of the fashion carousel in pursuit of a singular vision of style and beauty. Founded in 1988 by the eponymous Martin, their early shows were striking for the street cast models, often masked or with their heads swathed in linen, wearing clothes that wore their craftsmanship quite literally on the sleeves. The process of building the history of the house was inherent from the start; in the first ever show for S/S89, the models’ shoes – trademark tabi boots – were bathed in red paint before they advanced across the white cotton catwalk. This cotton, spotted in erratic red prints, was then used to create the waistcoats worn as the first looks in the A/W89 collection. The MMM ethos is always to focus on creating clothes which think, that exist beyond the remits of trends, that enhance the strength and power of the women and men who wear them.

Yet while they are certainly cautious about revealing their secrets, it is not to the extent of snobbery or exclusion. Their invitations are always brilliantly creative, in 2012, they collaborated with H&M in one of the most exciting high street collections ever created, and last year they demonstrated a wry wit hitherto unsuspected in fashion when they pastiched QVC in a collection film for Line 13. So as we prepare for a weekend of high fives and crisp Margiela white, we ask Graham how she'd get her hands ready for their close up.

Why did you love this shot?
It's just a really simple idea which works very well. I love the autobiographical timeline approach and it sums up a lot of things I like about the house: the anonymity, the numerical branding and it also nicely references their play on hands and gloves, which often takes prominence in their collections.

Where would you keep it if you owned it?
I would put it on my living room wall.

What would you wear on your hand to make it ready for its Xerox close up?
Crème de la Mer, it's a classic.

If you had something written on your hand, what would it be?
"Look up" – a lot of people forget to.

Who in the world who most deserves a high five?
My mother, for putting up with me over the years and being a general inspiration.

What is your favourite MMM collection and why?
I loved their A/W12 Haute Couture bejewelled masks. Also their 1999 duvet coats and S/S11 geometric square structures. 

What are you looking forward to about June?
Sunshine and good vibes.

Text by Tish Wrigley