Numerous studies have been conducted on individualism versus collectivism. Man as an individual in his pure form almost does not exist, the consensus seems to be. Everyone does things to take others into account, even though you are completely focused on yourself. But what about people who use their creativity to stay alive, as work? If you make something, do you want the credits for it? Or are you giving up this “honor” for the benefit of the team you work with? The documentary “We Margiela”, directed by mint film office, examines the collective creative process that made the fashion house Margiela world famous in the eighties and nineties of the last century.
Belgian fashion designer Martin Margiela founded Maison Martin Margiela in 1988 together with business partner Jenny Meirens. The creative process comes first from the outset. Making money is not important. Being a big name in fashion, that dream was pursued. Jenny – voiced in front of a white screen and passed away in July 2017 – says the two complemented each other perfectly and “if you’re not willing to lose, you can’t win”. The fact that Meirens and Margiela formed a golden combination is confirmed several times by former employees in the “We Margiela”.
The structure of the documentary shows striking similarities with how Maison Margiela worked. That already starts with the credits. Mint film office belongs to a well-known filmmaker, but of course she is not only responsible for “We Margiela”. And just like the designs of the fashion house, this documentary also has its fringes. A microphone or hand of the camera operator in the picture, a clear snap in an interview, and at the end the comment “we need to record some silence”. It’s alienating, but also refreshing and the thought behind it is beautiful. “We Margiela” is thus an ode to the fashion house that was far ahead of its future and an inspiration for many other fashion designers, even today.
For fashion enthusiasts, “We Margiela” is a party. There are many archive images, showing the unique designs and the special look of the models. The interviews with the former employees are candid. Neither their name nor their job in the fashion house remains – of course – anonymous, but can sometimes be inferred from the story. Nevertheless, the talking heads do start repeating at a certain point and a next fragment in which is told how Martin Margiela avoided the press and how talented he was, does not add much more. And those who hope to get a glimpse of Martin Margiela himself will be disappointed. But if even Annie Leibovitz doesn’t get him in front of the camera …