Martine Rose

London’s rising boss of the menswear underground talks Cyberdog influences and our insatiable youth obsession
By Luisa Le Voguer Couyet | Fashion | 9 June 2015

Martine Rose FW15

Top image: Martine Rose FW15

In 2007, Martine Rose kicked off by making shirts. It was Fashion East’s Lulu Kennedy who, after spotting Rose’s debut collection in a private members club in Soho, first championed Rose by incorporating her into the programme in 2011. Since then Rose has collaborated with shoe-giants Timberland and Caterpillar. Her clothes are stocked around the world. In 2014, she was bestowed a prestigious NEWGEN Award by the British Fashion Council.

Denim, leather, and cotton are all staples of the Martine Rose wardrobe. Rose’s past collections all contain an element of tailoring that is razor-sharp, paired with the likes of a crisp, clean cut shirt. It’s quite charming, the way she includes these defining, beautifully well made items of clothing in her collections, whilst managing to effortlessly incorporate something fun and new.

Youth movements, from erotic culture to London’s original rave scene, are a constant source of inspiration for Rose. Just look to SS15’s pedestal-propped model surrounded by strewn leaflets featuring Robert Mapplethorpe’s documentation of America’s underground S&M scene, or her FW15 presentation (her first outside Fashion East) in which models lounged reading papers amongst the aftermath of a bender.

Leather, zippers and ‘EXPECT PERFECT’ labelled patches. And those silver pants. Grab your glo-sticks and gear up for a big one. These clothes make us wanna.

Martine Rose FW15

LVC: Congratulations on becoming a mother! What are your plans for the future?
MR: Thank you so much! That’s a big question, although one thing has been striking that actually taking some time out has really made me understand how much I love what I do and what a privilege it is to be able to do it. So I guess my future plan is to find a way to continue doing what I love.

LVC: What was the first garment you made, and how did you feel once it had been created?
MR: I actually really don’t like making garments… I’m not very good at it either. For me the concept, the design, the ideas, everything else surrounding the actual make is the exciting bit, but that actual make ugh – rubbish, honestly my machinists wince when I get near a machine! So the first garment I think was a shirt – and I probably ballsed it up. I really respect makers!

LVC: Looking back, do you remember the moment that you realised you were being taken seriously as a designer?
MR: Thats a great question. I think it’s when amazing talents contact me and would like to work with me, people like Max Pearmain, Ollie Pearch, Ben Kelway, Tyrone Le Bon etc. I think that’s when you sort of get the feeling that you might be onto something.

Martine Rose FW15

Martine Rose FW15

LVC: What do you think you bring, as a woman, to menswear?
MR: I don’t know if it’s different to a male designer designing menswear to be honest – I’ve thought about it a lot – maybe it manifests in more feminine elements but I’m not sure that is necessarily true. It’s difficult to quantify.

LVC: How do your collections reflect you as an individual?
MR: My collections reflect my likes and interests, so I guess that in turn reflects my individuality. For instance they will often contain some influences of the music I listen to, or some memories I have, or interests I have picked up or become obsessed with during the season.

LVC: What is it about youth that attracts and inspires you?
MR: The same qualities that makes us a youth obsessed society – the optimism, beauty and force of youth makes it so hypnotic. The fact that most movements start there, in fashion, music, politics, there is an energy that is unmatched in quite the same way at any other time in your life.

LVC: When collaborating, how do you manage sharing and dividing creative responsibility with people?
MR: If it’s the right collaboration, it’s an equal exchange of ideas that dictates the pace and doesn’t need defining.

Martine Rose FW15

LVC: What has #BEEN TRILL# brought to the union?
MR: It was a conversation that turned into a collection, a conversation about music and fashion turned into a collection. Been Trill also introduced me to Slam Jam with whom we were in partnership with for the collaboration.

LVC: With your latest collection you described looking back into your archives, how did you know what would and wouldn’t work when creating a new collection?
MR: It’s the same process really when designing for a new collection, a lot of editing, drawing line ups, editing again, adding new shapes, reviewing, seeing what’s missing etc. – the same process really except we went into the archives more for the collaboration.

LVC: Slogans feature heavily in the FW15 collection, where do these originate from?
MR: Heavily influenced from the slogans I have done before really. I use them to communicate ideas that I have had throughout the design process. I became really interested in swimming badges for instance, (I used to swim competitively until my late teens) so I dug out all of my old costumes which are covered with various championship badges. It brought a nice oddness throughout the collection as on the surface it makes no sense, I really like the tension this brings.

LVC: I’m really obsessed with the silver trousers, what inspired them?
MR: I love them too – part of the inspiration for that collection was the early rave scene, and a bit New York Dolls, Cyberdog – dance elements basically that give a nice lift to the collection.

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