At her first runway show in nearly four years, Rose explored different masculine roles – and proved why she’s one of London menswear’s best talents
Leaving Zone 1 during fashion week to venture as far north as – gasp – Tottenham is pretty much unheard of, but one designer more than worthy of such a journey is Martine Rose. Last night, she welcomed the fashion press to somewhere they have most likely never been for a runway show – an indoor market in Seven Sisters. While local vendors handed out snacks, guests (including the likes of FKA twigs) sat in mismatched chairs in rows which weaved around the shops and stalls. There was a barber advertising intricate, tattoo-like hair designs, a nail salon, and of course the ubiquitous money transfer shop.
This season, Rose said she wanted to explore different male characters – the bus driver, the banker, the estate agent, the office worker. The models who filed out, hands in pockets, were dressed mostly in tailoring (new territory for the designer, and perhaps inspired by her consultancy on Balenciaga’s menswear) but under Rose’s gaze it was far from straightforward. Trenchcoats were deconstructed at the shoulders, suit trousers were blown out into the super wide, raver proportions of previous collections, and elements were feminised, with blazers transformed into halter necks. There were also some of the designer’s go-to hints of subtle, subversive sexuality (like a pair of leather trousers which featured a lace-up back) and sportswear, like the bus driver’s windbreaker which came with Rose’s name across the back.
“I really enjoy when things are slightly off – so I wanted to have this weird show inside (the market)” – Martine Rose
After the show, the designer explained that the choice to have these “polished, mid-town, almost American Psycho-style bankers” walking amidst the market was twofold. “I’ve been in Tottenham for ten years, so it was time to do something here – I wanted people to come to the market to see how amazing it is, she said. “But I really enjoy when things are slightly off – so I wanted to have this weird show inside it.” With masculine tropes meeting feminine references, corporate suits meeting Seven Sisters stallholders, it was a show which thrives on juxtaposition.
Martine Rose has been an unsung hero of British menswear for years, and has, over the past few seasons, chosen to scrap the show schedule entirely to present in her own way – opting for films and lookbooks rather than expensive, grand-scale presentations (this was her first runway since SS13). But hers is a point of view that's certainly beloved; exploring masculinity through subcultures and the underground, she’s referenced the sexuality of Robert Mapplethorpe, the masculinity of The Fall frontman Mark E. Smith, and the unique art of Britain’s 90s rave scene. As the show ended, the audience’s rapturous applause was testament to her place as a beloved figure in London menswear. While some of the bigger name designers have departed the city’s men’s week, Rose’s market stall show proved that she is still one of London’s most original voices