Martine Rose Is Your Favorite Designer’s Favorite Designer


The British-Jamaican designer’s signature—a “conscious celebration of all walks of life, notably of those on the periphery”—is joined together by leather chaps, huge double-breasted blazers that’d shame even the most ’80s corporate boardroom, and even huger stonewash jeans that show just the right amount of crack. It’s sort of kinky. It’s sort of workwear-y. And its interrogation of men’s fashion works. “I’ve always been drawn to the way men are told to dress. I’ve always wanted my collections to feel quite eclectic. I like to play around with pink in particular,” she says. An AW23 bubblegum fluffball coat and flesh-flashing chaps spring to mind. For her recent Spring/Summer 2024 show, staged in a packed-out community centre in North London, Rose pushed this further. Muscle guys wore hosiery drawn up to the ankle below barely-there vests. They wore bubblegum pink belts bearing cutesy heart-shaped clasps. Vests were cut so low that nipples were intentionally on display.

Martine Rose Spring/Summer 2024

But those early years, in her own words, “were hell.” Rose was making no money. “I was working in bars as I designed clothes in my free time—I was never solely into fashion. I couldn’t care too much about Martine Rose. It didn’t make enough to pay the rent,” she admits, explaining that, though she’s deemed “cool” for going against the typical fashion week schedule, it was never intentional. “I had no money to show,” she says of catwalk shows, which can easily cost six figures. “At times, I didn’t really know what I was doing and so I worked and failed quietly in the background.” But her friends, Fashion East’s Lulu Kennedy and writer Charlie Porter, encouraged her to push on. “I was happy to just work in a bar for the rest of my life,” she laughs. “But I had just the right amount of interest and support to make me not stop.”

In 2015, after eight years of grafting, Rose received an email from Balenciaga’s newly appointed creative director Demna Gvasalia. Some would call it a dream. Except Rose had never even dared to dream about it. “He’d somehow seen what I’d been doing and wanted me to consult for him,” she says. “That led to further recognition, and my brand began to make money. It was like someone had flipped a switch and we were suddenly commercial.” A Nike collab, which saw Rose create backless Shox and bulbous Monarchs followed. Each design sold out on drop day. “That allowed me to get into corners I’d only dreamt of,” Rose says. A Napapijri partnership followed. Tommy Hilfiger? He wanted in, enlisting Rose to remix his classic Americana. In January, she was offered the coveted guest designer slot at Pitti Uomo, where she staged her Autumn/Winter 2023 collection, following in the footsteps of Jonathan Anderson and Jil Sander.

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Martine Rose Is Your Favorite Designer’s Favorite Designer

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