>> Martin Margiela may be to blame for the overloaded shoulders, shaggy coats, and sculptural necklines we're seeing everywhere else for Fall 2009, and his bellwhether abilities are really paying off — his Paris stores logged a 21 percent sales increase year over year in January. Despite rumors last season that he was on the brink of leaving the company, "he's still in position," Margiela chief exec Giovanni Pungetti assures, although he disclosed that the designer recently reduced his day-to-day involvement and is seldom in the company's headquarters. Instead, "He’s concentrating on more strategic projects. He’s still working with us in the key decisions of the company. This is the spirit [Martin] wanted to create; that’s his philosophy. He’s more consulting with us than designing every product. The team is more Margiela than him.”
Indeed, the Fall 2009 collection — whoever designed it — seemed the essence of Margiela. The show was about "morphing," and models walked the zigzagged catwalk, starting with a woman wearing only a bra and nude tights, graduating into greater states of dress — slashed trenches and tops, looped capes, and Margiela's newest answer to the highlighted shoulder — clear plastic shoulder pads held by black bra straps. One model wore a cotton cloud. The crowd was left speechless at the end, and a muted applause broke out amongst the bewilderment. But it is here that the seeds of future seasons are planted.