Maison Margiela & Gentle Monster Debut Second Eyewear Collaboration with Robotic Alien Art Installation

Fusing Art and Vision: Maison Margiela and Gentle Monster Unveil New Eyewear in a Sci-Fi Themed NYC Pop-Up
Campaign imagery for Gentle Monster x Maison Margiela, photographed by acclaimed photographer Jordan Hemingway.
Campaign imagery for Gentle Monster x Maison Margiela, photographed by acclaimed photographer Jordan Hemingway.Courtesy of Maison Margiela x Gentle Monster. Photographed by Jordan Hemingway.

Artistic Korean eyewear designer Gentle Monster and artisanal French design house Maison Margiela combine forces to release a second collaborative eyewear line, following their first successful design partnership last year. The creative powerhouses equally value fashion as art, in turn building a new world together with an immersive exhibition for shoppers. Gentle Monster is known for its interactive world-building with artistic storylines alongside each new collection or limited collaboration release and individual five pop-up storefronts around the world.

Discover the Collaborative Collection

Gentle Monster and Maison Margiela present their highly anticipated second collaborative eyewear line with an immersive pop-up in New York City that fans of the brand won’t want to miss. The limited edition shoppable exhibition builds off of NYC’s existing Gentle Monster storefront at 70 Wooster Street in Manhattan. This location is usually entitled ‘The Visitor.’ Each Gentle Monster pop-up store has its own unique art exhibitions, storyline, and atmospheric feel from the others — the five existing exhibition pop-up locations for Gentle Monster’s current collection are New York City, Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo and Beijing to date. 

A larger-than-life humanoid robot welcomes New York shoppers to the Maison Margiela and Gentle Monster pop-up art installation.
A larger-than-life humanoid robot welcomes New York shoppers to the Maison Margiela and Gentle Monster pop-up art installation.Laur Weeks

The New York ‘The Visitor’ location immerses guests into the story of a barren earth, where the only life that currently exists takes the shape of large beige worms residing under the sand. These worms are seen in one of the sculptures at the storefront, surrounded by sand and slowly rhythmically writhing as they rise above the dirt. ‘The Visitor’ world is long devoid of other lifeforms…until now. We see the arrival of an alien being to the planet, through a large intricate horizontal sculpture in the centre of the showroom floor. This extraterrestrial arrives in its clear and chrome spacecraft, seen crashed into the front room of the Gentle Monster store as guests enter, bringing with it technology that can reintroduce life to the barren planet. 

This concept of life and rebirth take the form of a crescent-moon rig that slowly draws and dips a spiked orb-shaped egg in perpetuity into murky waters. Creatively representing the birth of a new culture, the store is a love letter to New York City and its history of ‘melting pot’ visitors bringing all of their own cultures to one place to breathe life into the city as we know it. 

In Gentle Monster’s own tale of ‘The Visitor,’ technology chooses to land upon the barren planet with the means to save humanity. Humans first learned from these cyber extraterrestrial beings at rebirth, and as humanity evolved over time they became the ones teaching technology in turn. In the store’s sculptural story, this is seen as a humanoid cyborg and human figure engaged in a dance — our coated human teaches their robotic partner, showing them the human side of life. 

Gentle Monster is known for its extravagant art installations that accompany each collection and store.
Gentle Monster is known for its extravagant art installations that accompany each collection and store.Laur Weeks

Following this existing concept of ’The Visitor,’ the Maison Margiela fashion house is the latest visitor to the Gentle Monster world, returning after an initial meeting last year for their first collaborative collection. With each unique caller, the Gentle Monster brand evolves, learns, and grows with a small voice of each culture added to an ever-changing design story. For Maison Margiela’s homage, the creative team worked together with the house to incorporate this brand story whilst tying in multiple identifiable homages to Margiela’s history. 

Frames ready for shopper try-on from the Gentle Monster x Maison Margiela second collection.
Frames ready for shopper try-on from the Gentle Monster x Maison Margiela second collection.Laur Weeks

The house of Maison Margiela, previously Maison Martin Margiela, was founded by Belgian creative Martin Margiela in 1988. Within the team, all members from design interns to retail workers wear the brand’s signature white laboratory coats — white is Margiela’s signature starched colour. A stark white symbolizes unity and purity historically to Martin Margiela, and a lab coat was his personal optimal iteration of this collective identity. The simple design features multiple pockets, a simple wrap design with ties, and serves as functional uniform dressing to unite an entire team on a project. Gentle Monster brings this historic note from the house to the collaborative collection through white coated employees at each location and the human sculpture in a lab coat courting their robotic humanoid counterpart. 

The collection also saw the use of the same materials that the house of Margiela employs in garment design, reimagined as unconventional eyewear. Leather-wrapped frames in a variety of shades and sleek shapes came together with Gentle Monster’s own house codes for a perfectly blended frame suitable for both men and women. Gentle Monster is non-binary, choosing to design for all faces with universally flattering designs that also physically fit well for their home demographic in Asia, as a Korean brand. Each of the new Margiela x Gentle Monster collection pieces feature the iconic Maison Margiela four white diagonal stitches on the temples of the frames, in the same thread used for their garments. 

As the famous saying goes: “Good things come in threes…”

Only time will tell if we will be blessed with a third piece for a triptych tale between Maison Margiela and the Gentle Monster brand, but if the last two collections are anything to go by, it would be exceedingly well-received by fans and flawlessly executed from campaign to design if renewed for a third collaborative showcase. The two designers work seamlessly together, due to their heavy emphasis on the intersection of art with fashion and pride in superior craftsmanship through uniquely forward-thinking creative work. For the discerning customer who desires quality materials, subversive design, wearable avant-garde juxtapositions, and fashion history sleekly built into futuristic design stories…this is one collection you won’t want to miss out on. Gentle Monster and Maison Margiela are two sides of the same coin, and we look forward to seeing what each brand has in store for the future after a thoroughly impressive pop-up exhibition and sophomore collaboration this season. 

Campaign imagery for Gentle Monster x Maison Margiela, photographed by acclaimed photographer Jordan Hemingway.
Campaign imagery for Gentle Monster x Maison Margiela, photographed by acclaimed photographer Jordan Hemingway.Courtesy of Maison Margiela x Gentle Monster. Photographed by Jordan Hemingway.

Visit the New York City Gentle Monster pop-up exhibition and shop the Maison Margiela x Gentle Monster eyewear collaboration collection in-person at 70 Wooster Street for a limited time. For more information on the Maison Margiela x Gentle Monster story, pop-up store hours, or online purchasing, visit https://www.gentlemonster.com/us/stories/maison-margiela

About Gentle Monster

Gentle Monster CEO and Creative Director Hankook Kim comes from a surprising background unrelated to the fashion industry. Gentle Monster is now one of the premier eyewear brands in the world, starting as a business-to-business eyewear brand with the intent to challenge dominating industry competitor Luxxotica. The brand’s journey was not easy, but it has solidified its place as a multi-conceptual line that focuses on the intersection of style and function for the disruptor. With largely unisex styles flattering for an array of face shapes and builds, Gentle Monster dominated the Korean market it was born in, rapidly moving around the world with an identifiable art-exhibition-as-storefront approach. The name reflects a marriage of delicate and wearable (“Gentle”) design with unapologetic attitude and fierce individuality (“Monster”) of its wearers. The brand does not usually offer sales as a philosophy, and is strongly anti-counterfeit. Gentle Monster’s many collaborative releases sell out almost immediately upon release, with household name partners such as fashion house Maison Margiela, singer Kun, BLACKPINK’s Jennie Kim, the Overwatch video game, and many others.

About Maison Margiela

Maison Margiela (originally Maison Martin Margiela) is one of the most acclaimed fashion houses in the industry currently, for good reason. The brand is known for its delightfully deconstructive and avant-garde designs built with unconventional materials, leaning into the subversive and questioning the constructs upheld within society and within garments. Maison Margiela has traditionally held live shows in unusual settings, most recently presenting a Victorian-underbelly-inspired runway show for its Artisanal/Haute Couture 2024 collection that nearly broke the internet with rousing rounds of applause from the fashion industry. Models' faces are often obscured by fabric or long hair to direct attention to the clothes and design as a tenet of Margiela’s philosophy upon focusing on art within fashion. Founded in 1988 by Belgian designer Martin Margiela, the Paris-based fashion house is synonymous with unique unconventional principles and a philosophy in which deconstruction and heritage go hand in hand to create designs that showcase fashion as an art of meaning, rather than a cult of personality.

CREDITS

Writer, Photographer, Editor: Laur Weeks @laur.weeks

Eyewear: Maison Margiela @maisonmargiela x Gentle Monster @gentlemonster

Campaign imagery: Photographed by Jordan Hemingway

Special thanks to Gentle Monster New York general manager Neil for his extensive knowledge and thorough guidance of the collection and display.

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