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The woman behind Maison Martin Margiela

Jenny Meirens and the creation of the Margiela mith

The woman behind Maison Martin Margiela Jenny Meirens and the creation of the Margiela mith

Last night T Magazine The New York Times Style Magazine has published a wonderful article about Jenny Meirens - fashion's invisible superstar - and her powerful collaboration with Martin Margiela. The complete text can be found here and deserves a acareful reading but, in the meanwhile, retrace with us the main points of Maison Martin Margiela's birth - taken from the original text by Susannah Frankel - in this short text.

It's 1983 and the golden rule was dress-to-impress when Jenny Meiers is in the jury for the Golden Spindle Award - an annual competition conceived by the Belgian textile industry - and comes into contact with a young designer from Antwerp's Royal Academy Of Fine Arts called Martin Margiela.

For me, it was the best. I had quite a fight with the commision,” she remembers, smiling. “The clothes were inspired by surgeons’ scrubs, the skirts were huge and the shoes beautiful, very strong, a masculine upper with a low, heavy heel.”

Not satisfied by the choice of the jury to award Dirk Van Saene instead of the young Margiela, Meirens offers the precocious talent the opportunity to sell his collection at Crea, the pioneering shop run by Mariens himself and located in the center of Brussels. At Crea, Jenny presents and sells the creations of emerging designers such as Yohji Yamamoto and Claude Montana; exposed not for brand name but for chromatic shades, offering a futuristic alternative to the  jolie madame style - very popular at the time. 
A year after the meeting with dazzling Margiela, she decides it was time to open the first Comme des Garçons store in Belgium and went to Japan to meet Rei Kawakubo.

I was totally dressed in Margiela, including my shoes,” says Jenny. “She (Rei)was looking at me and saying nothing until, in the end, I said: ‘What do you think of my clothes?’ And she said: ‘I like your shoes a lot.’ And she ordered a pair. I went back to my room and called Martin in the middle of the night. ‘Martin, I sold a pair of your shoes to Rei Kawakubo.’ Of course, he was so happy.

The collaboration between Meirens and Margiela continues quietly until 1988 when Martin himself decides to leave his position at Jean Paul Gaultier to devote body and soul to the new project: Maison Margiela.

We felt ready to start a fashion experience together, our fashion house that would become Maison Martin Margiela,” Martin says. “We shared ideas back and forth for a whole year, she on structuring the strategy and I on inventing the style of the collections.

The work of the first true talent scout of the fashion system for Maison Margiela continues unabated until 2003 with her retirement, after taking the now iconic Maison as far as she possibly could.