Images courtesy of Arcin Sagdic and 

See Maison Margiela’s SS21 collection turned into breathtaking digital art

Artists Arcin Sagdic and Ezra Miller share how they interpreted the key concepts of John Galliano’s most recent collection.

by Mahoro Seward
|
16 April 2021, 3:08pm

Images courtesy of Arcin Sagdic and 

AW21 may have seen the return of most designers to the (audienceless and pre-recorded) runway, but the reign of experimental fashion films as the go-to presentational format for SS21 lives on in our hearts. As with any experiment, of course, some were great successes, others… less so. But didn’t seeing fashion titans and fledgeling designers alike take to the medium en masse with such gusto feel inspiring? Like the potential start of something new for an industry often prone to stasis? Of all the films that conjured those feelings, one that truly stands out is Maison Margiela’s Nick Knight-directed spectacle for the house’s SS21 ‘Co-Ed’ collection presentation.

Over the course of 45 minutes, S.W.A.L.K. II blurs the boundaries of genre, flitting between documentary segments that see John Galliano muse on the season’s central inspiration, the tango, and cinematic vignettes of models dancing in the romantically sombre collection, and culminating in an underwater wedding. Going beyond its functional remit -- to show the clothes, that is -- the presentation was a work of art that measured up to the clothes. 

To celebrate the arrival of the SS21 Co-Ed collection in stores, the avant-garde Maison has decided to push the artistic narrative around the collection further by revealing ‘Key Pieces’, a project that sees the collection through the eyes of two of today’s most intriguing young voices in contemporary art. Focussing on three of the collection’s key themes (the ‘wet look’, ‘print with a purpose’, and ‘anonymity of lining’), Arcin Sagdic and Ezra Miller were given free rein to apply their digitally-informed artistic practices to the artisanal clothes. Here, they share their artworks for the project, as well as the process behind their making and how they relate to the Maison Margiela world.

Arcin Sagdic

What first comes to mind when you think of Maison Margiela? The first thing that comes into my mind is the mysterious, anatomic elegance of each collection. What common ground is there between your artistic practice and the world of Maison Margiela? I have been alienating form and humanity over the last seven years -- collaborating with Maison Margiela under the title “Anonymity” for the SS21 Co-Ed collection just felt very natural and was a continuation of that vision. How would you introduce the work you’ve created for ‘Key Pieces’? Matter is atomised, recognisability of forms are momentary, chemical compositions reveal their secrets. It brings the protagonist into an otherworldly environment where the human cognition of colour and momentum intersect with reality, where physical laws are suspended. The imagery for the SS21 Co-Ed collection is an indication of existent and non-existent materialities. What inspired you most in the SS21 collection and film? From the first moment I saw the collection, I immediately felt the artistry and precision of John Galliano; from this excitement and inspiration, the direction of our shoot was naturally set. It was a very smooth exchange of ideas that brought us all the way to this outcome. How did you approach translating that inspiration here? My attempt was to take it further into outer space and convey an otherworldly sense, where time and matter is distorted. What do you hope viewers come away from the work with? A sense of the evanescence of forms.

Ezra Miller

What first comes to mind when you think of Maison Margiela? When I think about Maison Margiela I think of quality, experimentation, beauty, anonymity, transgression. What common ground is there between your artistic practice and the world of Maison Margiela? In my practice I always try to push myself forward, improving upon and breaking my old methods. I'm not focused on preserving one way of working, but I have a strong identity. I see that mirrored in the history and legacy of Margiela. Their language is hard to define but strongly recognisable, and always being innovated. How would you introduce the work you’ve created for ‘Key Pieces’? The work is a GAN (generative adversarial network) trained on photographs I took of the ‘Key Pieces’. To me, the work is the result of our shared trust in an experimental approach. When Margiela approached me to create an interpolating animation of images of the key pieces, I felt I needed to shoot the clothes themselves in order to get the result we both wanted: images that were seamless, highlighting the texture, colour, and form of the pieces, but not purely photographic either. Maison Margiela trusted in this process and the result was something that elevates and enhances the clothing and the photographs. What do you hope viewers come away from the work with? I hope viewers will notice the attention to detail and time that went into creating the images. It took many iterations and combinations of hundreds of photographs, time spent re-training the neural network and time generating the interpolation videos. I chose the best possible combination of textures and angles to emphasise the beauty of the clothing.

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