Margiela's Heavenly Scent

Mark Borthwick Discovers the Elysian Fields Within The Maison’s New Perfume

Renaissance man Mark Borthwick presents a fittingly abstract short to herald the arrival of fashion house Maison Martin Margiela’s second perfume, (Untitled) L'Eau. A self-professed admirer of Margiela’s deconstructivist garments, Borthwick took inspiration from the fragrance’s naturalistic notes of Mandarin orange, curly-leaf mint, Amalfi lemon, buchu essential oil and African orange flower, taking the viewer on a journey through an idyllic spring garden, as seen from the inside of the L’Eau bottle. The London-born, Brooklyn-based director, photographer, artist and musician cut his teeth shooting for the likes of AnOther Magazine and The Face before expanding into art and film; he has since brought his trademark saturated color and blown focus aesthetic to collaborations with Mike Mills, Sonic Youth and Chloë Sevigny, among others. NOWNESS talked to Borthwick about the connection he feels with Maison Martin Margiela, and the importance of being a nonconformist.

What was the inspiration behind the film?
I guess there’s an essence, a central sense that inspired me towards the smell. The stepping-stone was trying to immerse myself in the poetry of this collaboration of smells and essences. 

Was there a story you wanted to tell?
If anything it was about trying to let go of any kind specific narrative, of anything that was literal or tangible. It was really just about a sense of freedom. There was the direction from the perfume itself though. It has this delightful summer breeze feeling that transpires the various essences and herbs.  

What interested you about working with Margiela?
The first Margiela show in 1988 completely blew my mind. From a fashion and styling point of view it was breaking ground. It suggested that you could continually push yourself to see things in a different way and not have to conform in order to participate in the industry.

Is there a thread that connects your different creative outlets?
In the end it all comes from you; everything you do is a sense of expression, everything you say, any kind of action you participate in. I would to hate to say that one is more important than the other. I feel like today, especially, I can’t do one without the other because they all thread and weave together.

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Conversations (4)

  • Antebellum
    Two options: cut it in half to reduce the boredom or just forget this was ever made.
  • Jesper Grolin
    Very boring indeed. Could hardly keep awake till the end. What a waste of time! Nothing new or inspiring, just very dull.
    • Posted By Jesper Grolin
    • September 06, 2011 at 8:24AM
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  • coco5
    Ahhh..; feels like summer has never left us! I feel like going on holidays again!
    • Posted By coco5
    • September 05, 2011 at 10:09AM
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  • jameson
    This is the dullest, laziest, no-content effort at a 'film' for a fragrance. I have seen better stock footage clips on stock web sites! I feel sorry for whoever wasted their money on this 'director.' I am also angry to have wasted my time watching this, being MMM thought it would at least be somewhat interesting- which it was definitely NOT.
    • Posted By jameson
    • September 05, 2011 at 9:39AM
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