As with any Martin Margiela creation, the Edo Bell is a witty and idiosyncratic re-working of an existing paradigm. Ever since the seventeenth century, glass bells have been sold in Summer by itinerant Japanese salesmen walking through the streets of the old, poor areas of Edo, the former Tokyo. Whereas the traditional ones–effectively wind chimes–are highly decorated, bearing painted tickets falling from the glass tongues dangling inside, the white tickets falling from the Margiela Edo Bell feature no decoration at all, save for an almost imperceptible blind stamp at its base, comprising the numbers one to twenty-three, the number thirteen encircled. Herein lies the clue to what makes the Edo Bell a covetable fashion object.
The raised number thirteen signifies that the Edo Bell comes from Maison Margiela's 'Line 13', a collection of what they call 'white goods'. Ranging from a completely white set of (strangely erotic) Russian dolls to a white egg box filled with 'fortune eggs' that break open to reveal quirky bon mots like fortune cookies, these white goods are objects chosen to convey the core values and crucially, the overarching white aesthetic at the heart of the Margiela company–dare one say it–brand.
Not clothing, handbags, scent or any of the other fripperies that make up the bulk of any comparable fashion houses' income, white goods respect the intelligence of the consumer, asking them to read 'Margiela-ness' into a series of otherwise unrelated (albeit beautiful) objects. The imperfections in the transparent, hand-blown glass Edo Bell speak of the allegiance to the 'artisanal' craft of fashion: its materiality and objecthood. More importantly, its 'whiteness', that is its freedom from adornment, renders it an elegant kind of palimpsest, literally a carte blanche onto which meaning or interpretation may be projected. Far from being some kind of sanctimonious homeware range, the white goods are fashion at its most democratic - you don't even need to be able to squeeze into them. The Edo Bell is one of their most charming examples.
Edo Bells by Maison Martin Margiela at Maison Martin Margiela Paris +33 1 45 49 06 68