Muses of Margiela

Maya Sieron and Rezi Simons share their inspiring model moments from the Maison Margiela Artisanal Collection 2024 show.

 The dawn of the new year saw one of the most groundbreaking fashion shows in recent history, igniting curiosity and passion with the show performance, the merkin and the trend-setting porcelain makeup, blurring the lines of fashion and art, making them one and whole. The incredible success of the Margiela artisanal collection from the 2024 show is still in the air. We interviewed two talents who walked down the fabled runway – Maya Sieron and Rezi Simons. Their career now acts as a reminder that fashion is not just about clothes, but also the people who wear them giving it a whole other life, and its significance.

In the fashion world, models are often seen as mere vessels or blank canvases upon which designers paint their visions. They stride down the runway, embodying the narrative of each meticulously crafted outfit, while their individuality and significance can be overshadowed by the clothes they wear. Underneath those clothes, models are not just mannequins but storytellers in their own right, silently conveying stories, emotions and aspirations with each step forward. Designers and fashion houses have started welcoming models of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities in recent years, demonstrating a greater awareness of the value of diversity and representation on the runway. This change is a reflection of a wider understanding of how models may convey stories that connect with audiences from all walks of life. While the spotlight may be on the garments, it is the models who bring them to life by instilling personality and presence. They are the canvases through which a designer’s creative expression flows, translating fabric and thread into living, breathing art. A smirk, a stare, a smile and every other gesture and expression, is a brushstroke in itself that contributes to the big picture. Here we have Maya and Rezi sharing their experiences from Day 1 of casting to creating history at the grand finale of the runway show.

Walk us through your journey from the time you were chosen to walk the Maison Margiela SS2024 Haute Couture show. Tell us YOUR story and how you contributed to this artistic ballet.

(Maya)I think Jess Hallett had a vision of me in this show before. It was amazing because I came to the casting and Jess smiled at me, shook my hand and told me that she had wanted to meet me for a long time. It was a shock to me that she knew exactly who I was, and I had admired her career for years, including her time working with my icon Kate Moss. For several days in a row, I went for corset training and fittings, and thanks to that I had time to make friends with other models, which was very nice because usually we only spend a few hours backstage before the show together.

(Rezi)Upon my arrival in Paris in early 2023, I was chosen by the casting director at the Maison Margiela house and walked the first show for them, I was subsequently approached to work more closely with them on a day job (fittings with John Galliano directly), so I was casted directly for the haute couture show. I was incredibly happy, I love John Galliano’s work. Once I knew what outfit I was going to wear specifically, what it was supposed to express, I tried my best to empathise with his ideas and portray them as best as I could.

Can you describe your feelings, your emotions, your thoughts, the whole experience while walking down the runway? A piece of your mind about your performance “in the moment”.

(Rezi)Before I took my first step onto the runway I felt the rush of adrenaline. But the moment I took it, I suddenly felt like I was in another world. At that moment all thoughts faded away and I was part of the show, part of a specific story, part of an organism. I didn’t think about anything else but my role, my walk, my expression. After I entered the bar and felt the faces of the audience, the atmosphere changed rapidly. I tried to connect directly with them, I was there for them, I wanted to give them the feeling, the energy, everything.

(Maya)When I heard from Pat what the mood for the show was like, a bit of Moulin Rouge, a bit of a tired lady coming back from a party in the middle of the night in Paris, I was delighted because I could finally express myself more artistically and prove that I can do more than just glide down the runway. This changed when the outfit assigned to me changed, The Kees Van Dongen’s muse, a walking painting, one of three characters who only have to glide down the catwalk… Well, that’s how Galliano wants to present his vision so that’s exactly what I would do. I won’t lie that during the runway my mind wanders and plans the next day, for me it’s such a moment of adrenaline that I only focus on getting through it, where are the lights, where to stand and presenting my outfits in the best possible way. Stress is often focused on shoes, usually they are not incredibly comfortable, and the mask I wore at the show limited my visibility quite a bit, so the focus was “not to bump into Anna Wintour”. Of course, I was delighted with the fact of taking part in this show and incredibly grateful, but it was only the next day, when I saw these articles, the great hype and the entire show from start to finish online, that I realised it was a historic show and how proud I should be that I was a part of it. You don’t see much backstage. Yes, I saw beautiful clothes, but only when I sat down for these 20 minutes and saw how each model turned into a silent actress, how the clothes worked in motion and with music, then I realised on the Eurostar back to London how amazing it was.

Can you tell us about a memorable moment or a highlight from the show that left a lasting impression on you?

(Rezi)It may sound funny, but it was making eye contact directly with Anna Wintour. She is simply an icon for me and to see her sitting there right in front of me was just BIG.

(Maya)I think just being there at all was amazing. One of the highlights is not the show itself but the fitting. It was at night, I had been waiting a few days to finally meet Galliano in person, not just exchange smiles from a distance, and I saw that a few girls in front of me had to work a lot on their walking. Pat was helping them trying to make it look as good as possible, so I was afraid of what he would say about me. I took 5 steps and he said that’s it and the whole room started applauding and I smiled slightly in this beautiful atelier wearing a mask and thought: “Mom, Galliano is applauding me!” Amazing, I never thought in my life that I would reach this stage in my career to work with legends. Another unforgettable and more funny moment was probably when 30 minutes before the show a lady came up to me and started kneeling under me and sewing pubic hair to my jumpsuit, I saw that the other girls had merkin from the beginning, but I thought that my outfit was already ready, it turned out not to be the case. Maybe another highlight was thanking Galliano at the after party. I think I was a bit shocked that I was talking to him.

Were there any unexpected, challenging moments during the final runway? If so, how did you manage to get through it?

(Maya)I think not. I was one of the few people who actually felt very comfortable in the corset from the very beginning, so it didn’t affect my breathing that much. My look didn’t drag on the ground or restrict my movement, so I didn’t have to stress with every step. Maybe the limited visibility and those iconic Louboutin’s on the rough asphalt could only cause some minor stress, but apart from that the crossing itself was very calm.

(Rezi)Actually the whole thing was a bit of a challenge for me but the atmosphere backstage was so nice I could forget all my worries.

How did the show right from the clothes, the makeup, the choreography to the final runway impact you and your work as a model ? Was it more than just a runway walk? a learning experience ? an adventure ?

(Rezi)I’m convinced that this show was one of the greatest in recent years, and although Maison Margiela‘s shows are always something else, I went to three so far. It was so special that you could feel it from the very first moment. So no, it certainly was not just a show, it was a spectacular and unique experience for me.

(Maya)It was definitely an amazing adventure and maybe even a lesson. I must admit that initially when I saw the styles of the girls in front of me, I was delighted and I waited excitedly for my look and I was a bit surprised. It was my first Margiela show. I wanted to present myself as best as possible, but it turned out that I was wearing a mask and my face couldn’t be seen at all… I needed a moment to remind myself that what I was doing here was not about me. That I am only a canvas on which the artist represents himself to the world and it is not me who has to look best, but the art I represent. I accepted that maybe no one would know it’s me but I do it for the art and it’s an honour to be chosen by Galliano or Olivier Rizzo.

Only later did I see that this was one of the looks that was most frequently featured in articles and posts apart from Gwendoline’s photos. So I’m glad that I had the honour of presenting one of the most influential styles from this show. It was also the first time I saw how I would look bald, not that bad! So if I ever came up with such an idea, thanks to the amazing team that made me a very realistic bald head, I know what shape my skull is. I think that no matter what my career will look like in the future, I will remember this show forever and I will think back to it.

 Is there anything you would like to share about the entire show which was perhaps overlooked by the audience? Any tiny significance that went unseen?

(Rezi)What the audience couldn’t see were the hours and hours of work by a huge team of amazing people who made it all happen. A big thank you belongs to them too.

(Maya)I don’t think I remember the last time there was so much talk about one show. Really, my entire feed was articles and posts from this show, so I think every aspect has already been touched upon, but I can definitely mark again the details of these looks as small works of art, the amazing Pat McGrath make-up, which is viral now (unfortunately I didn’t have it , but the models looked amazing), the hair and how, with Pat’s help, each model turned out to be a great actor and brought these clothes to life. I really didn’t know that such talents were on this runway and we proved that models are not just a clothes rack. Plus just a small tribute to the entire team, I think that many people simply don’t know how many people work on such a show and put their hearts into it.

​​Lastly, reflecting on the outstanding show of 2024 and Maison Margiela’s Artisanal Collection, how do you think it all resonated with the audience? Were there specific moments or outfits that you felt particularly connected with the viewers, and why? Give us your perspective.

(Maya)As I said, I didn’t expect that this show would have such an impact in the fashion world and that it would be talked about long after the show. It was only the next day that I saw the film with which the show started and the amazing opening of the show by Leon. I had the opportunity to spend some time with him during fittings and he really is a very nice person, but I didn’t even have the opportunity to congratulate him on how amazing he did it. I know that not everyone has to understand the art of haute couture and I had a feeling that there would be some criticism or unpleasant comments about merkin or a lot of nudity, but privately I haven’t heard any negative comments. Waves of congratulations and kind words. I think there were a few looks that really stood out, including Gwendolyn’s latex dress, who by the way also put on an amazing show, and the one with a cardboard-looking coat. What I didn’t expect was that my look as a painter’s muse was also one of the most frequently viewed ones. It’s really amazing that the show can have such emotions on people, people cried, they watched the show several times, the make-up became a hit and hundreds of people are recreating it now. It wasn’t about celebrities and who was on the show, but about the great art of fashion.

(Rezi)I don’t think I’m quite the right person to judge. But I can say that my subjective feelings are simply indescribable. I think the whole show was shocking. The vibe, the atmosphere, you could feel it even through the screen. It was raw, it was completely different. It was the return of pure art to fashion. And I’m incredibly honoured and grateful to John Galliano for allowing me to be a part of it.

Muses of Margiela

Credits:

Models: Rezi Simons, Maya Sieron / @rezi.simons @mayasieron
Interview: Jyothsana Selvam / @jyothsanaaa

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