Martine Rose goes back to school for AW20
Leather and latex in the classroom? For sure, if Martine has anything to do with it.
Photography Mitchell Sams
Martine Rose has, over the last few years, staged her shows in some of the most interesting venues in London. Each one an evocation and exploration of community: the Latino markets of Seven Sisters, a suburban cul-de-sac, a city rooftop. Across the seasons she’s created a tapestry of dressing uniting elements of London’s various nightlife cults, subcultural tribes and glamorous outsiders. Throughout her career, Martine has constantly and consistently created the most exciting, pioneering, unique takes on London menswear.
AW20 saw Martine take us to her daughter’s primary school in Kentish Town for a collection that looked back across the designer’s past without ever feeling self-referential, constantly teasing at new possibilities.
“This is my daughter's school and it's a really great school,” Martine said after the show. “I think it's really optimistic, really universal... primary school is a really magical place and I wanted everyone to feel that, to feel really optimistic. Young people and their education, it's really fucking important. It's the future! We need to invest in them and inspire them.”
The walls of the school hall were still adorned with the artwork and projects of the children at Torriano Primary School, providing an incredibly surreal backdrop to the parade of looks; iconography from Martine’s past resurfaced but was constantly remixed into new silhouettes. There was plenty of latex, thigh-high cowboy boots, duster coats, jackets and knitwear morphed into scarves, tailoring printed with London place names Martine has a connection to -- Clapham, Tottenham, Croydon, Tooting.
“I find it really hard to define the brand,” Martine said, when asked what digging in the archive had taught her. “I think observers are much better at working it out, I do what I do, I don't really have a formula. The inspiration is always the same -- those different groups on the peripheries, and finding a way to mix them together, because I find that mix really interesting.”
A new element in the mix this season was a collaboration with Farah -- the classic mod-casual label. Her uncle used to own a pair of the brands creased trousers, and Martine has remade them in giant, billowing, proportions. And whether she’s finding inspiration in new wavers, clubbers, junglists, looking and uncovering the past, Martine always manages to create something that feels resolutely modern. “It always gets remixed in different ways... whatever I’m inspired by, the essence is always the same -- it's me.”
Photography Mitchell Sams