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Martin Margiela exits Margiela

Belgian designer Martin Margiela, head of the eponymous French fashion house, has left the business. No replacement creative director will be appointed.

Maison Martin Margiela will continue trading but the company declined to comment on the reasons for Margiela’s exit.

Chief executive Giovanni Pungetti told WWD that Margiela will continue to operate under the strategy adopted in 2002, when Diesel’s parent company Only the Brave bought a majority stake in the fashion house.

He added: “We want to stay avant-garde, and provocative, but without a new creative director. It’s a challenge. We know this. We will probably make mistakes, but the most important thing is to learn from them.”

It had previously been speculated that Margiela would leave the business this year after his 20th anniversary fashion show in Paris in March was hailed by many as a retirement show.

Pungetti revealed yesterday that Margiela had been considering his future for several months. During that time, the the fashion house discussed the option of replacing him with a new creative director and approached Belgian designers Raf Simons and Haider Ackermann.

Pungetti said: “We came to the conclusion that we didn’t want to substitute [Martin], not because he is irreplaceable, but because we are the Maison Martin Margiela.”

Pungetti added that orders were up 20% for Spring 10 reflecting continued commercial momentum for the firm. However, he said that he expected sales in 2009 to be flat versus 2008, with the company operating at “near breakeven” .

He added: “We think 2010 will be tough, but no tougher than 2009. We have good deliveries, and good sell-through.”

Maison Martin Margiela has 17 standalone stores and 21 shop-in-shops worldwide. No store openings are planned for 2010.

The company intends to grow its homewares and interior design business next year. Pungetti said: “The reputation of the Maison as a global design company, not only fashion design, is increasing.”

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