The Mysterious Martin Margiela Is Back—This Time, as an Artist

The elusive Belgian designer’s first-ever art exhibition will feature never-before-seen sculptures, installations, and photographs.

Spring 1998 Maison Martin Margiela show
Photo via Getty Images

Martin Margiela has been a household name for more than three decades, and yet there’s a good chance you’ve never seen his face. The reclusive Belgian designer does not grant face-to-face interviews, and at no point in his enormously influential tenure at the helm of Maison Margiela emerged from backstage. In fact, for more than a decade, he’s been absent from fashion altogether. (John Galliano has helmed his eponymous label since 2014.)

This year, however, seems to be different. On April 15, Margiela will enter his version of the spotlight by opening of his first-ever art exhibition, featuring never-before-seen sculptures, installations, and photographs. According to the Paris-based gallery Lafayette Anticipations, the show “celebrates the idea that Martin Margiela has always been an artist, whose work has played out since, within and outside the art world.”

Details are predictably scarce. But Lafayette Anticipations, which is backed by the same group as Galeries Lafayette and Eataly Paris, offered a few more hints. The show, which is simply titled “Martin Margiela,” was apparently “conceived as a complete work of art.” It marks a continuation of themes found throughout Margiela’s fashion archives, including transformation, disappearance, chance, mystery, aura, and the passage of time. (Visual teasers will roll out later this month.)

Perhaps the move shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise. The designer-slash-artist recently granted full access to the filmmaker Reiner Holzemer, who released a documentary on Margiela last year. That came two years after he notably broke his silence—and even opened up about his retreat from the industry—in a written statement to the Belgian Fashion Awards: “I felt that I could not cope anymore with the worldwide increasing pressure and the overgrowing demands of trade.”

Margiela’s career trajectory may now resemble that of Helmut Lang, another reclusive designer-turned-artist, but don’t expect him to join Lang on Instagram any time soon. “I also regretted the overdose of information carried by social media,” Margiela’s statement continued. “Destroying the ‘thrill of wait’ and cancelling every effect of surprise, which was so fundamental for me.”

Related: A Very Rare Helmut Lang Interview About Fashion, From the Front Row to Birkin Bags