Martine Rose’s show at London men’s fashion week took place at a climbing wall in Tottenham on Sunday night.
It is testament to the buzz around the 37-year-old designer that the fashion crowd made the trip far out of their central London comfort zone. Rose is one of the most exciting talents in London menswear. Her label dates back to 2007, but after a hiatus she relaunched it on the catwalk in January.
That show was also presented in Tottenham, at Seven Sisters Market. With an 80s take on workwear with silky shirts, Phil Oakley haircuts and tie pins, it was a hit and demonstrated that Rose was one to watch.
She also designs for Balenciaga, a highlight of the Paris schedule. This collection continued on the theme of the everyday but moved the focus from work to leisure. The front row seats were made of crash mats, and the moulded climbing wall with colourful grips formed the backdrop. It was appropriate.
Models, male and female, wore fleeces, cargo shorts, hoodies and wide jeans – outdoorsy clothes given a high fashion edge. The workwear that Rose proposed last season was also featured, with striped shirts, wide-legged trousers and blazers. These came in oversized proportions that changed them from banker-wear to something more suited to the kind of creatives in Rose’s milieu.
“I started to look at subcultures in Toronto, Portland and Sydney – couriers and people doing outdoor sports,” Rose said at a preview of the collection.
She was open about tapping up territory not usually part of the fashion vocabulary. “I was interested in traditionally uncool things like golf,” she said. “It’s the corporate man off duty, like a tech dad.” Of course, a trip to Millets wouldn’t be sufficient here. Rose mixed rambler-wear with rave staples, like cycling shorts and oversized sportswear. This was inspired by the photography of Trevor Hughes, and his pictures of the Toronto cycling and music scene in the 80s and 90s.
Rose namechecked Steve Jobs as an inspiration and said that the corporate world she touched on previously remains fertile territory. “That bled through from last season,” she said. “I think it’s the idea of taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary.”
Jeremy Corbyn – on his bicycle, wearing rainproof clothing – featured on the “save the date” for this show. The kind of items usually reserved for biking on a rainy day or for the camping backpack gained an unlikely endorsement on Sunday night but they fit into a wider trend. Identified as “gorpcore” by New York magazine in May, outdoorsy pursuits – or at least the outdoorsy wardrobe – is becoming fashionable.
Young urbanites are swapping glamour for fleeces, cagoules and hiking boots – not for practicality but as a fashion statement.
Other designers at London men’s fashion week have explored similar territory. Cottweiler’s collection, shown on Saturday, had models toting square water carriers more usually seen on a camp site. With her studio close to the climbing centre, Rose wants to keep things in her community, using a local roti restaurant as caterers.
“It’s really important to the brand,” she said. “I’m really excited to bring people to Tottenham again.”
London men’s fashion week finishes on Monday, with Craig Green and Vivienne Westwood on the schedule. Across the four-day event, a genderless, artistic and anything goes aesthetic has dominated.
Designers including Charles Jeffrey, Edward Crutchley and the duo Art School had male models wearing ornate dresses, and there have been performances from dancers on their catwalks. The focus will now shift to Florence, where Off White and JW Anderson will show collections.
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