The relentless pace of fashion, with its waves of shows, unveilings and releases can be somewhat bewildering. Each season passes in such a way that for those of us immersed in it all, we can often lose all sense of time. There is little opportunity to take stock. However, today's announcement of NEWGEN sponsorship for AW12, affords a welcome chance to see just how far the smorgasbord of emerging menswear design talent has developed. The menswear sponsorship, courtesy of Topman, was awarded to Christopher Shannon and J.W. Anderson for catwalk shows whilst Lou Dalton, Martine Rose and Matthew Miller all receive well deserved salon presentations and the likes of blog favourites Bunney, Christopher Raeburn and Sibling all have a place in the heady design cocktail that are the installations. Like many of the designers themselves, this blog has grown up with this band of names. It gives me great pleasure to see this talented take the next step on each of their labels journeys. The announcement made me realise just how much Martine Rose has evolved.
In the space of seven seasons, Rose is a design that has worked hard to craft solid foundations for her eponymous label and cement her place in the competitive menswear scene and with much success. She has collaborated with Wallpaper Magazine and Timberland, CAT boots and was one of the designers selected to take part in Selfridges 'Bright Young Things' project, which saw designers produce a window display for the exclusive store, design and exclusive product, and stock one-off pieces in store. Her previous collections have included ambitious installations at Blacks members club before the days of her sponsorship, Somerset House and most recently as part of MAN and all have been well received by press and the industry alike. Fantastic Man's very own Charlie Porter has described her as "one of the most exciting designers working in London right now. The way she brings originality with her colour and choice of cloth to traditional menswear staples is ingenious." This season, her obvious talent was showcased in one of the strongest MAN lineups to date back in September for SS12. For her seventh collection, Rose was drawn to the 70s skate scene and many of the boys that walked the show were skaters themselves. It was one of the most talked about collections of the season so it should come as little surprise that she has now been awarded her own salon presentation. Her advancement is so well deserved and I'm looking forward to the coming seasons and beyond.
Whilst excited by the future, it is about time that I explored her highly acclaimed SS12 collection. With this in mind and long before the announcement was made, I caught up with the designer to learn more about her latest collection. Whilst researching for the season, the design talent revisited the exuberant documentary account of the rebirth of skateboarding in the early seventies Dogtown and Z boys. "I was captivated once again" and she was soon drawn in to this world of on the edge creativity. The collection itself showcases sheer fabrics and washed denims, reminiscent of the sun bleached sidewalks. Rose looked to scene icons including the legendary Zephr team and Kurt Cobain for inspiration. Her colourful mood board was a patchwork of "mostly womenswear, Kurt Cobain performing in a dress and Jay Adams." It was Kobain's ability to subvert the perception of the 20th century man, with his appearances in dresses and skirts that led to fabric and silhouette experimentation. The designer goes on to explain; "I loved the idea of men wearing womenswear and being really sexy, an almost uber male which, for me, was about conveying an attitude. The confidence and fragility of youth, the arrogance, the swagger." This duality is key for the season as Rose effortlessly bounces between soft and hard, bright and washed out, sheer and graphic. "I was looking at old Thrasher Mags from the 70's and old skated/surf footage, my research was constantly flitting between really bold and angry, to soft focus footage of sun bleached swimming pools. I used a lot of sheers, layered over highlighter coloured T's, which translated this feeling, and graphic prints, such as the Sticker print which was inspired by the skater stickers which cover the boards."
Rose's exploration of 1970’s skate culture extends to the fruits of her collaboration with Icon Brand. "The collaboration with Icon Brand felt like a natural pairing. Having their origins as a surf brand, there were obviously lots of crossovers this season. Their jewellery was perfect as it is all about found objects, so they are beautiful objects within themselves, that we took and then hand painted with enamel paint to use as embellishments for bandanas. Pieces are featured heavily throughout as customised embellishments and jewellery components are utilised in accessories and on the garments themselves. It looks as though this is just the start of a long term collaboration. "Working with them is fantastic, as their product is already so beautiful and fun, it has such a sense of humour. It has been fab to take their pieces and use in a different way. We are developing the collaboration into more wearable pieces so watch this space!"
Throughout, Rose reimagines a lost but not forgotten generation, a band of the weird, a selection of rebels and outcasts that struck against the mainstream and created their own subculture. With the sheer shirts which are layered over brights and graffiti inspired print, the collection showcases fantastic fabric play and offers freedom to how the garments are worn. Rose has captured the confidence and fragility of youth quite wonderfully. However, the designer concedes that "I don't really expect someone to wear and buy a full look, I mean, fantastic if they do, but for me it's more about how they interpret for themselves what I have designed. The interpretation is the best part!" To supplement the catwalk show and to help bring the collection to life, Hidden Agency created a short film that took the form of a trailer for a documentary about an imaginary skater who embodies the rebellion, vulnerability, and creativity that was central to Martine’s inspiration and SS12 collection. Below are a selection of stills that caught my eye...
Stills from Hidden's short for Martine Rose. The full film can be viewed here.
Our conversation concluded with me asking Martine Rose how her self titled has evolved since its inception and her response is a fitting way to end this post. "For the better I hope. I feel like I am making more confident decisions, I am getting to know the 'Martine Rose man' better, and we're getting on very well, I like him." As her talent blossoms, she's not the only one enjoying getting acquainted with the Martine Rose man.