Martin Margiela was born in 1957 in Leuven, Belgium, to a Polish father and a Belgian mother. He lives and works between Paris and Belgium.
As a teenager, he attended the Sint-Lukas Kunsthumaniora art school in Hasselt, Belgium, for three years, then entered the fashion department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp in 1977.
After graduating, he worked as a freelancer in Italy and Belgium before moving to Paris, where he became Jean- Paul Gaultier’s first assistant from 1984 to 1987. Maison Martin Margiela was founded in 1988 in the same city with a unique and avant-garde style, far from traditional references.
Martin Margiela was the first designer to introduce recycling in his creations, using army socks, broken crockery, flea market clothing, and plastic packaging, among other things. His outfits show signs of wear and tear and his fashion often goes beyond the boundaries of clothing. The locations chosen for his fashion shows are equally unconventional: an abandoned metro station, an SNCF warehouse, and a vacant lot that has become legendary.
Early on, Margiela forged links with the art world through exhibitions at the Thaddaeus Ropac gallery (Paris) and institutions such as BOZAR (Brussels), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam), Haus der Kunst (Munich), LACMA (Los Angeles), and Somerset House (London).
In 1997, while continuing to work for his own label, he was a surprise appointment as creative director for women’s ready-to- wear for Hermès. He worked there for twelve seasons until 2003. In 2008, he decided to leave fashion just after the twentieth anniversary show of Maison Marti Margiela.
Since then, he has devoted himself exclusively to the visual arts. His first solo exhibition, at the invitation of the Lafayette Anticipations Fondation in Paris, took place from October 2021 to January 22.