Saturday, 7 February 2009

Style Salvage Speaks to... Martyn Bal

Out of the seemingly countless Spring Summer 09 lookbooks we have seen over the course of the last few months Martyn Bal's is one of the few that we remember vividly. We have to admit that Bal was not on our radar until we saw his vision for this coming Spring but we eagerly researched him and his impressive CV says it all... we can't wait to see his next collection (images for this should be up shortly). Martyn Bal has learnt his trade at some of our favourite menswear designers and we love what he is doing on his own label so we were thrilled when he agreed to speak to us.

Style Salvage: Describe your work in a few words.
Martyn Bal: We aim to challenge fashion conventions with an architectural vision of shape, fit and proportion, whilst effortlessly juxtaposing strength and fragility, forcefulness and elegance, with hedonism and romanticism.

SS: You have certainly learnt your trade at some prestigious places from being an apprentice at Dirk Bikkenbergs, completing an MA in Menswear at the RCA, assisting Hedi Slimane at Dior Homme, designing collections for Versace, and directing the men's studio for Burberry's Prorsum. Which experience would have shaped your design the most?
MB: Every single experience has been important to me. Different people and places have had different influences on my work. At Bikkembergs I learned all about tailoring and constructing a perfect jacket or coat, whereas at Dior Homme I received more exposure to creating an image. Having had a mentor like Hedi Slimane has been extremely valuable to me in terms of understanding vision, and how to apply a vision into the finest and often overlooked detail. Burberry was a good corporate school, where I learned about the more institutional sides of this industry.

SS: Having seen so much at such a young age, what advice would you give a young designer wanting to forge a career in menswear?
MB: Ambitious people often want too much at once. I believe it is essential to be patient and learn step-by-step.

SS: Have you got a set design process? Do you use inspiration boards?
MB: I don’t have a set design process; every season may be approached differently. Sometimes I find an image and work around this to build up a story, other times I simply start to draw and find reference along the way. I never restrict my creativity to just one theme. Often different media inspire me. Being a modernist at heart, I use graphic design, contemporary art and music culture as a springboard for inspiration.

SS: What (if any) films/books/TV-programs/moments and stories currently inspire your design?
MB: I love watching the classic Michael Caine movies, or a young Terence Stamp in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s TEOREMA. However, it’s attitude, contradiction and behaviour that inspire me most, rather then having one particular muse.

SS: Your spring/summer 09 collection provided one of the strongest look books that we've seen all season, what were the main inspirations behind it?
MB: With the SS09 collection I wanted to emphasize fit and proportion and work with soft and light materials. It is a play on dualities, confidence and romanticism; Cropped pants, long t-shirts and more volume at the top. I also worked around the idea of conscious dressing to defy authority, as in adolescent rebellion.

SS: What can we expect to see in your next collection?
MB: The AW0910 collection is about rejecting traditional forms and anticipating the future, so there is strong play on fit and proportion throughout the collection. With regards to colour and print, I have tried to arrange it in such way that from a distance it agrees completely with vitality in all its forms. We have asserted a lot of attention to detail and finishing. Our collection breaths luxury and craftsmanship, made to the industry’s highest standards. We have also been working around the idea to propose ‘The new suit.’

SS: What would you like to achieve in 2009 and beyond?
MB: The way things are looking at the moment, 2009 is going to be a challenging year for the industry. It would not surprise me if some fashion houses were to fail. We believe that in times of turmoil it is leadership and innovation that create opportunities. Our aim is to do just that for 2009 and beyond.


Anonymous said...

I loved this lookbook and it is so nice to hear more about the designer. Looking forward to seeing his aw collection too.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff again chaps. Martyn Bal is a new name to me so thanks for sharing.

TheSundayBest said...

You are completely on fire.

Giancinephile said...

Which just reminds me how much I loved the FW08 collection of his...

It's also nice to hear about fashion designers who are inspired by Pasolini. There aren't so many, I believe.

Anonymous said...

hey steve, im enjoying these "Style Salvage speaks to . . ." posts.
just wanted to alert you to a sweater that might be of some interest to you. it was posted by the lovely zana of 'garbage dress':

although i dont think it is "your style" (whatever that may mean...) i think it'll provide you with some food for thought...

Style Salvage Steve said...

Wow, thanks guys. We are really enjoying this little feature and it is great that you are as well! Thanks for the link to the sweater Tanya, I keep meaning to feature Walter Van Beirendonck and this just might be the final inspiration needed.


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