Despite being one of the fashion world’s most revered names, Martin Margiela is also one of its most secretive figures. The enigmatic designer has long chosen to let his disruptive designs speak from themselves, never appearing for photos, not even after his shows. So it is with great anticipation that the fashion world awaits the upcoming documentary on Margiela from award-winning writer and director Alison Chernick.
Having directed acclaimed films about Matthew Barney, Jeff Koons, and Roy Lichtenstein, Chernick is perhaps the perfect filmmaker to sew together Margiela’s story. Here she speaks about inception, perception, and persona in our interview about her upcoming film.
Interestingly, Chernick has adopted Margiela’s characteristic elusiveness when talking about this project, and openly admits that her answers are purposely vague and laconic.
How did you get involved in this project?
One of his head designers is a friend of mine and had amazing old footage from the early shows, when Martin came out at the end, etc. There’s an eager audience out there waiting to know more about him. I was attracted to the challenge that there is no footage of him. As a filmmaker, how do I work around this obstacle– make a documentary portrait without footage of the subject himself. This intrigued me…
Has your opinion changed about Margiela since the project’s inception?
Opinion? No. Understanding and perspective, of course. My perspective on my subjects always tends to grow as I get deeper into the material – they become more human, I see their flaws, their vulnerabilities, which in turn provide me with a more honest path to unraveling a truthful narrative.
How is the public’s perception of Margiela different from his true persona?
I think they just don’t know what to think. They see the creations, the mystery… and are left wondering. My film hopefully will provide some context to understand his significance and impact on the world of fashion and art.
Margiela’s influence has been so vast, how are you capturing/portraying this in your film?
I’m carefully curating who speaks about him. I’ve also asked him for his list of who should speak on his behalf, out of curiosity. It was interesting to see his preferences. The absence of information can create many variables, so I intend to separate fact from fiction.
Margiela is such an enigmatic character in the fashion world, how do you make a film about an artist without being able to actually film the artist himself?
There are many different ways to tell a story… and there are many different stories. All the magic happens in the edit room.
What has Margiela the man been up to since he left the helm of his namesake fashion line?
I hear he is painting.
What are your thoughts on the brand’s latest creative director, John Galliano?
Personal opinions aside, I think it could be good for the brand. Certainly bold. The Maison is very excited.