Having toiled both in and out of the spotlight over the last seven years and more, there's a real sense that London menswear finally has the platform that it deserves in London Collections: Men. The cultural programme of shows, presentations, installations and talks will thrust London menswear so far forward that it now launches the SS13 season. Few designers will have experienced more during this transformation than Martine Rose.
Always smiling, she has seen and played a key part it in all. From the first menswear installation by Fashion East housed in an old embassy building in South Kensington to MAN to NEWGEN MEN sponsorship and her own salon presentations, Rose has helped pave the way for the industry to move forward. A true pioneer of London menswear. Excited to see what the design talent will unveil next week we dropped by her Seven Sisters studio for a cup of tea and a chat. Here she talks us through her wall of sculpture masterpieces, her thoughts on the new platform and the community spirit that exists amongst the designers...
"The collection was sparked by a Bernini sculpture and a real fascination with hands developed. Hands are everywhere in this collection. We've engraved hand prints, mine actually but we've had to change them a little because mine looked too skeletal, and we are bonding them on to fabric. We've had to make our own neoprene for the hand prints to be engraved on first. We've really pushed it this season!
My flatmate was talking me through the wonders of Pinterest and showed me a sculpture by Bernini which she had seen with her mum, I was just blown away by it. The fact it was made out of marble was so surprising to me. This led us to explore this idea of using fabrics that defy their nature. It's all about form, using textiles that appear soft but are in fact hard.
From Bernini, I expanded my inspiration search to other sculptures. Henry Moore's work really influenced the proportion play of the collection. He worked with such a mix of the odd and unexpected. You'll also see Grace Jones pop up in the mood wall. She is just the perfect sportswear reference for me and she even looks like a living sculpture. I recently found myself relistening to Island Life again which I'd not heard in years but found again when I moved to Brixton, so it's not so much a direct influence but more something that was around during this time..."
Martine Rose talks us through the inspirations behind SS13
From Bernini to Moore, Grace Jones to denim, Rose's wall is a masterpiece of sculpture.
"I always work this way. I just wish I had archived each collections mood wall because I've had some great ones. It can be nerve wracking as they are quite personal. It is that moment when you reveal your thoughts to the team, watching them respond to it can be quite nervy. Everyone's got good vibes about it this season and its great to have you photograph it! Some designers like to keep things quite insular and just direct but its important for me to have everyone on the same page and know what I'm thinking.
There's a few stories this season; the use of neoprene in trousers, bomber jackets and other outerwear. Then there's the washed, embroidered and at times oversized denim. Knitwear that feels likes it is reassuringly hugging you and a snakeskin story that helps explore texture. As always there is the shirt story that underpins every collection and this season I wanted them to feel quite corporate. Everything else in the show is quite mental so they are quite simple but some will include the neoprene as sleeves.I'm really, really excited this season. Not just for the show itself. There's just everything to be excited for as it it's what we've all been working towards and waited for. There's been a great deal of effort and investment of money, time and faith. I thought about the early days as I talked to Charlie Porter as part of his Who's Who of London series and boy, were they lonely. It's very different now and there's a real sense of community, everyone is so supportive of each other. It feels great to be part of this. I'm just excited that it is happening."
Martine Rose on the upcoming season and London menswear