Margiela Changes Its Name + 5 Fashion Meltdowns to Remember

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Maison Margiela Artisinal Spring 2015, Courtesy of Maison Margiela

With regard to everything except the clothes, John Galliano‘s much-talked about return, the debut collection for Maison Margiela was a drama free affair. The location? The 4th floor of a new London office tower. As Vanessa Friedman put it for the New York Times, In case you missed it: new building, new businesslike beginning.” All of this quiet professionalism is intentional. The clothes will speak for themselves, giving Galliano a chance to cement his status of “in recovery” from the infamous drunken, anti Semitic rant of 2011. 

Something else happened too, almost silently. What’s been “Maison Martin Margiela” since 1988 became “Maison Margiela.” It seems a wise choice to make this move with little-to-no fanfare–after all the noise surrounding the Saint Laurent rebranding was louder than anything else, for quite some time.

The name change has avoided controversy, perhaps because Galliano himself is already enshrouded in it. With the demands of a countlessly expanding seasonal schedule (spring, fall, resort, pre-fall, couture, and so on,) immense financial pressure, and fierce competition, fashion can break one down and chew one up ’til there’s nothing much to do but pitch a fit. Here’s a look back at a few designers who did:

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1. John Galliano’s Anti-Semitic Rant

First up in our short history of fashion tantrums, let’s revisit the incidents that led to Galliano’s firing from Dior. In 2011, Galliano went on a drunk tirade, one he later said he remembered nothing of, verbally attacking a couple in Paris, starting with ethnic slurs and moving on to criticize the woman’s clothes, thighs, and more.

At trial, he cited the immense pressures he felt on the job and said he was addicted to alcohol, sleeping pills, and valium. The judges disagreed, deeming him to have had “sufficient awareness of his act despite his addiction and his fragile state.” 

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2. The Saint Laurent vs. YSL Debacle

This infamous name change must have had public relations professionals everywhere shaking in their boots, and probably paved the path for Margiela’s approach to rebranding — a what not to do.

Hedi Slimane’s entrance at the house formerly known as YSL was shaky on many grounds. Around 2012, it was a straight-up disaster though. Business of Fashion‘s founder and Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed wrote extensively about the ongoing interactions with the communications team after they were asked to edit a tweet (as BlackBook’s social media manager, I know very well that this is impossible) and ultimately neglected invitations to Slimane’s debut collection “because they were unhappy with the ‘tone of voice’ that we have used when writing about YSL.” There was also mass confusion over the name and to how the company would be referred. A lengthy press release was concocted to divvy up appropriate nomenclature.

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3. Christophe Decarnin Ordered to Stay in Bed

The crowd was confused when the 2011 Balmain show closed and then-designer Decarnin was nowhere to be found to take a bow. Immediately, conflicting reports emerged. Had the designer suffered a mental breakdown, was his absence due to drugs, or had he simply stayed up too late the night before, putting finishing touches on the collection?

Reps for Balmain cited “Doctor’s Orders” to account for his absence. Decarnin was reportedly recovering from nervous exhaustion, reigniting a frequent discussion about the potentially dangerous pace of the fashion industry today.

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4. Cathy Horyn Calls Oscar de la Renta a “hot dog”

After a harsh review with a colorful if misunderstood quasi-insult from Cathy Horyn (“far more a hot dog than an éminence grise of American fashion,”) the late ODLR wasted no words nor money to address his response, which he issued vis-à-vis a full page ad in WWD, entitled “An Open Letter to Cathy Horyn from Oscar De La Renta.”

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5. Is Jil Sander at Jil Sander?

Jil Sander founded her eponymous house in 1968. Since then, she’s exited and re-entered so many times that her comings and goings are both hard to keep track of, and met with incredulity.

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