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The Emperor Has No Face

We almost hate to make a critique of Maison Martin Margiela on their Twentieth Anniversary but the reliance the house has on the intellectual chestnut of anonymity has grown stale for us even as fashion conformity grows as a problem in identically merchandised style capitals across the globe. At no time is critiquing the sameness of fashion more necessary and yet never has it felt more stale to literally wipe out any traces of personality or identity when conceiving a catwalk. Yes, how clever, fashion obscures as it reveals, Frederick Jameson's photorealism and artistic simulacrum in a dress, the representing and the represented.  It's been done, and while everyone loves a "best of" show the collection leaves us unsure, amid the rumours, that a future is even warranted.

In the twenty years since the house begun the fashion landscape has changed, leaving behind unsteady footing for the avant garde. Barbarians are at the gate and an army of amateur editors lay waste to the minutiae of every gossipy detail. And so it is no longer enough to have one issue, no matter how salient, as an intellectual rallying point. We simply do not have the attention span (and even if we did we would question anonymity as one that needs to be reiterated season after season).

Many designer have gotten past this attention deficit conundrum not through better designer or stronger inspirations but through celebrities, political innuendo and skillful public relations. Perhaps Martin Margiela is too good for these gambits or perhaps he is not quick enough to operate on this new playing field. It is no coincidence that no one has even seen his photo and yet we must say that rather than heightening the allure it makes us say perhaps the emperor has no face. He has let us in on the joke and it turns out its not very funny. Post Modernism is over Martin.

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