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Rising from the East: Mareunrol’s

Latvian duo Mareunrol’s are injecting into fashion their unique mix of art and quirky designs.

There’s definitely interesting and intriguing fashion outside the big and trendy capitals such as London, Paris, New York and Milan. If you don’t believe it, check out the work of Latvian artists and designers Mārīte Mastiņa and Rolands Pēterkops, both graduates of the Design and Art School of Riga. Launching in 2002 their own brand, Mareunrol’s, and in 2005 their denim line MRJeans, the duo’s approach to fashion has been simply invigorating. Their emphasis is on creating men and womenswear designs that superficially look simple and basic, but actually hide surreal details: jackets have asymmetrical cuts, innovative details are added to denim trousers and checked shirts have multiple collars layered one on top of the other that create a multi-structured effect. The duo’s collections often stand between fashion and art: inspired by the hats in Raúl Ruiz’s film “Klimt”, Mastiņa and Pēterkops created gigantic headpieces that, representing laid tables, kitchen appliances and gardens, attempted a definition of the “MRJeans” outfits worn by the models on the catwalk. The duo’s latest collection, “Private Detective” - presented at the end of October during the [moment] event, a platform that showcased young and talented designers that Mastiņa and Pēterkops curated - features sculptural pleated dresses in shiny fabrics and trench coats with multi-pleated motifs. Is Europe ready to embrace Latvian style? Apparently yes: Mareunrol’s designs are already sold in Berlin’s boutiques and, Pēterkops announces, they will soon be available in further European shops. 

Dazed Digital: When did you decide you wanted to become a fashion designer?
Rolands Pēterkops: We knew since we were children that we would one day be creating art. However, Mare was planning to become a ceramist and she ended up studying fashion by chance when her sister submitted her documents to the wrong department. I have always been very interested in expressing ideas in fashion design and applied to the fashion course on the same year as Mare. That is how we met and slowly started collaborating on various fashion projects. We both felt very ambitious and determined and, since we also had similar ideas, we realised that working together was the best way to really learn and get on with our careers. We have been each other’s greatest influence as we both complement each other’s work, but there are numerous artists that have driven us by their passion, knowledge and professionalism. We find inspiration in anything that surrounds us, including people, passionate artists and anyone we encounter in real life or through the Internet.

DD: Who are your favourite designers?
RP: It depends, we are usually attracted to the work of a designer because of their aesthetics, designs or concepts. We love Henrik Vibskov, Undercover, Antonio Marras, Comme des Garçons, Cassette Playa, Bernhard Willhelm and accessory designer J Smith Esquire not just for the way they present their collections, but also because they manage to create unique items.
DD: Do you have a particular type of person you design for or have in mind when you create your collections?
RP: We usually design our collections in two different ways: we create a collection as if it were a story, so we imagine the characters that would visually exist within this story. While we design casual wear garments keeping in mind the people who like to associate themselves with the lifestyle our clothes inspire. We see them as strong and brave people who like to build a bond with their clothes and feel comfortable wearing particular details, fabrics and patterns.

DD: What’s the fashion scene like in Latvia?
RP: Latvian fashion is patiently looking for its place in the global fashion market. Latvia has its group of very talented and skilled fashion designers, but fashion in general is in its infancy. Before World War II Latvia had very competitive fashion and interaction with the Western Europe took place on a regular basis. We feel that now times are changing towards that again. Latvia has many great designers operating in various fields. We really love Miks Mitrēvics’ video and animation, film director and video artist Kristīne Kursiša, visual installation artist Armands Zelčs and visual artist Evelīna Deičmane.

DD: What’s the main theme behind your latest collection?
RP: The initial inspiration for the collection came from film noir, stories about gangsters and detectives. Before starting work on this collection, we were designing costumes for a theatre play based on a detective story. In the preparation stages, we watched many noir classics including Japanese detective stories that were showing urban sights and crime. So when it came to designing our collection, first we created characters and then a story about them. As a final touch we made our characters look as if they were stars of a noir movie as we wanted the collection to have a cinematic mood about it. My favourite piece from this collection is the yellow housewife’s dress with the oven glove that you can see in the “Private Detective” film.

DD: Can you tell us more about the short movie “Private Detective” made by Latvian film director Kristīne Kursiša and presented at the [moment] event?
RP: We decided to collaborate with Kristīne, because she is a very inspiring and talented video artist. The dream to make a fashion movie had been haunting us for quite a while and we had tried a few times. However, it was only when Kristīne came along that we decided to do a video story of our latest collection “Private Detective”. The movie was done in stop motion and photographer Kaspars Lielgalvis did all the set designs and also took all the pictures.

DD: How was your recent fashion show at [moment]?
RP: It went really well. As artistic curators of the event, we were pleased with the results. [moment] presented outstanding international and local fashion and accessory designers, photographers and musicians such as Justin Smith, Yuima Nakazato, Ek Thongprasert, kap10kur, Pacific, Kaspars Lielgalvis, Monika Pormale and many more. We were also very happy that Diane Pernet joined [moment] with a selection of the best of A Shaded View on Fashion Film (ASVOFF) movies. In addition, we presented our latest collection “Private Detective” accompanied by 3D set designs in the background, such as very large notebooks that opened as if they were children’s pop up books.

DD: What are you working on at present?
RP: We are getting our Christmas presents together while working on our new jeans collection. As usual, we are also looking into implementing alternative projects that, balancing art and fashion, can inspire us as well as the society that surrounds us through different media.