Design Icon ‘Tabi’ – Martin Margiela

  • Words

    Christophe De Schauvre

Every other week we and Sjiek / Het Belang Van Limburg present a Limburg design icon, or one that is well on the way to becoming one. This week it is Martin Margiela’s Tabi.

WHAT: Hoof-shaped shoes inspired by Japanese socks.

YEAR: 1989

Genk fashion designer Martin Margiela (° 1957) is regarded as one of the most influential and imaginative figures in the contemporary fashion world. In 1988 he presented his first collection in Café de la Gare, on the outskirts of Paris. Margiela immediately set the course and sent his models onto the catwalk in long, wide skirts. With that, he not only went against the prevailing fashion image of broad-shouldered and short-sleeved silhouettes typical of the 1980s, he actually broke with everything that was common in fashion.

On stocking feet

The first Margiela show left its footsteps literally and figuratively. After all, models were dressed in special hoof-shaped boots or “goat’s feet” and had to step through red paint before they would walk up the blank canvas of the catwalk. It made an impression. The shoes were inspired by authentic Japanese socks that split the big toe of the other toes. The round heel is just as characteristic as the hoof and since then there have been versions in leather, lacquer, latex, plexi and even cement layer.

It shows a genius to put a boot on the sock, certainly in the late 80s and long before one would speak of “cultural appropriation”. Above all, it shows how progressive Martin Margiela was. “The first time I saw the Tabi, I was completely upset by their originality,” Kristina de Coninck noted, who took the first steps with the Tabi as a model and lifelong muse of Margiela. “It was a kind of poetic fantasy from somewhere by far … And each season Martin managed to introduce a new way of wearing, with great respect for Japanese culture.”

B of the Bang

At the first show, Margiela succeeded in creating a momentum in which the international fashion circle witnessed something special in matter and strength. A show like a B of a Bang between punk and grunge. The beginning of a new and exciting era and the Tabi became a particle accelerator for the success of Martin Margiela. It made him an “institution”, because the son of a hairdresser consciously chose to stay underground forever. Everything had to and would revolve around the brand; not for his person. Without making it unnecessarily complicated, he knew from the start how to hide himself in a mystery: no interviews – unless by fax or later e-mail – no photos of him, the team in front, uniform white to showrooms and branding.

Belgian fashion has been in the backsteps of Martin Margiela for 30 years and the Tabi is for Margiela the same order as tweed is for Chanel: an emblem, every collection again. Even though Martin is no longer involved in the fashion house, the Tabi has put the heels in the sand of international success that continues to yield with boots, sandals, pumps, ballerinas and even sneakers. On Friday, November 8, a new documentary film “Martin Margiela in his own words” premiered in New York. A Belgian-German production and piece by Reiner Holzemer with music from dEUS and with Martin Margiela himself in the lead role as only he can.

@ Margielatab1 is an instagram account dedicated to the Tabi. </ h5 >