Sans Flowers, Is Lace Still Lace?

Maison Margiela MM14 T

Following our previous post, someone mentioned to us that her objection to men wearing lace is due to “the unholy combination of lacy and floral that guys should just stay clear off”. What then, we wondered, if the lace were stringy and graphic? Just to be sure we don’t get it wrong, lace, according to Georgina O’Hara’s The Encyclopaedia of Fashion, “is a textile patterned with holes and designs created by hand or machine”. There was no mention of flowers or florals. In fact, Ms O’Hara cared to trace the word’s origin to the Latin laqueus or “knot, snare or noose”, which sounds rather nautical to us, even executional!

If lace is “a fine open fabric of cotton or silk, made by looping, twisting, or knitting thread” (according to the OED—we wanted to be absolutely certain), then Maison Margiela’s T-shirt for men (above) is made of lace. Yet, we don’t think there is anything lacy about it, at least not in the vein of those made in Chantilly or Venice, just two traditional centres of lace-making. Net-like, yes, but lacy, not quite. In fact, we were very attracted to this top—the fabric in particular. At first glance, you thought it was a bonded fabric, but upon closer inspection, you’d see that it’s basically strings laid flat, but not straight, and then stitched over, much like quilting. This is applied to a black cotton/polyamide jersey base, which yields a vaguely bonded effect.

To us, there’s no denying the appeal of this otherwise basic T-shirt. The texture of the fabric treatment and the harlequin-check pattern of the stitch work are allowed to do all the talking. The T-shirt requires no bombastic design treatment to make it special. While no doubt artistic, the overall finish this lace reminds us is that of fishermen’s nets of yore, of which the making and mending was a masculine and life-sustaining chore. Interestingly, nowhere in our reading were there suggestions that openwork depicts only florals or are exclusive to female dress.

It’s not reported that John Galliano is involved with the men’s collection of Maison Margiela. It is very likely that the designs are left in the hands of the very capable technicians who have kept the line very much alive and vibrant since the departure of its founder. Innovative fabrics, technical and those with craft-like appearances, are the mainstay and continue to keep the men’s wear captivating.

Sadly, the Maison Margiela store in The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands closes today. No official word on its closure was released, but it’s very likely due to what a despondent salesperson described as “slow” business. Whether the brand will completely exit the Singapore market, it is not immediately clear. In the mean time, Bangkok is the only city in Southeast Asia with a free-standing Maison Margiela store. Singapore, your fashion standing is fading fast.

Photo: Jim Sim

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