Design House Maison Margiela French
Designer Martin Margiela Belgian

Not on view

The trompe l'oeil (optical illusion) tattoo t-shirt is an early emblematic design by conceptual Belgian designer Martin Margiela. It was shown during his first Paris runway show for spring/summer 1989 and became one of the most widely publicized pieces of that show. The motifs were taken from a nineteenth century encyclopedic illustration about tattooed men on the island of Nuku Hiva, in French Polynesia. The trompe l'oeil effect of the skin-colored netted top makes it unclear where the skin starts and the fabric ends: it looks as though the model wears no clothing and has tribal motifs painted onto the body, like a tattoo. Similar motifs can be found in the work of avant-garde designers Issey Miyake and Jean Paul Gaultier, whom Margiela assisted from 1984–1987.

Shirt, Maison Margiela (French, founded 1988), synthetic fiber, French

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