To get to the white, white heart of Margiela, first separate yourself from the crowd. By 8 p.m. there are 800 people—including Sarah Jessica Parker, Julianne Moore, Lynn Yaeger, every fashion editor ever, and a woman wearing a fruit basket for a hat—at 5 Beekman, fêting Margiela’s post-Martin collaboration with H&M. Approximately 600 of them are waiting to go up the stairs to drink, to see curious and curiouser installations, to shop the 100-piece collection that hits stores soon.
Don’t go up the stairs. Turn left into a hallway gone awry, a white-lit hallway half-constructed (or is it deconstructed?), with a sign markered “restrooms.” Nod to the uniformed attendants standing guard over funereal flower arrangements, all white. Walk down another hallway, also white. Feel that you are about to undergo surgery in a private, possibly illegal clinic. Or get married. It’s all so hush-hush strange.
At the end of the hallway, proceed… to the… Port-A-Potties?
Margiela is an endless is-it-or-isn’t joke.
Let other brands make you feel beautiful, sexy, privileged, tall, “worth it.” Clothes from Margiela make you feel foolish. They make you *look* funny. They’re attempts to both reconcile and parody the paradox (a false paradox, often) of intellect and style. Worse, they fit you wrong on purpose, like all your favorite ideas about yourself.
Margiela gets away with it by rarely advertising or doing press, through marketing by not marketing. You never think about the money. You’re a fool for love. Am I right? Close? Because if you get the joke, it’s okay. You’re in on it. You’re “in.”
H&M has the power to change all that, and yet, if you don’t count those celebs mannequining the collection on a not-red carpet, this party was the most Margiela thing I’ve ever seen. 5 Beekman is an eight-story, entropic TriBeCa ur-loft left empty for decades. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve been in New York, and the most decadent, the deadest. I felt like a hologram on the Titanic.
Of course, it’s totally haunted—like the house of Margiela itself. I kept wondering if the famously unknown designer, who departed the brand in 2010 but left his name, was there. He could be anybody and I’d believe it. He could be that drag queen, or better yet, security guard. He could be the modern dancer drawing cubist silhouettes in the white sand. He could be Kanye. Did I mention Kanye? Kanye was there.
I don’t have pictures of him, though, because in the words of a probable Thai ladyboy next to me: “I’m not stopping for Kanye. I don’t care about Kanye. I have to go pee!”
Time got lost in there a little. But I think it was ten p.m. when everybody got onto the stairs, up to the balustrades to watch the dancer (who is actually Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker; look her up) all the way down below. Her final performance was mesmerizing. I have never seen fashion people take fewer pictures of themselves. I’ve never felt so like I could die listening to Leonard Cohen. She danced us to the end, and then—encore! A clap and a hailstorm of confetti, silvering everything, like New Year’s Eve at the end of the world. Then we took all the pictures of ourselves. They didn’t turn out. Low lighting is an elitist conspiracy to ensure you had to be there.
I guess you could have stayed, had more champagne, maybe asked Mena Suvari what she’s been up to, anyway. I left. Illusions never last the night.
Margiela with H&M, as they’re calling the collaboration, is in stores November 15.
Next year, 5 Beekman will be a luxury hotel.