As first jobs go, consulting for Balenciaga isn’t a bad one. And ten years after launching her namesake label that’s exactly what Martine Rose has found herself doing - all the while finding her own brand coming into its own. After a smash-hit of a collection last season (which everyone has been talking about this week), the London-based menswear designer is up for this year’s ANDAM accolade, along with fellow hot ticket names Koche, Aalto International and Y/Project. It’s fair to say that Martine Rose is now very much a favourite on the London menswear scene from which she had previously taken a hiatus.
Finale at Martine Rose Fashion Show (Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION)
“I’m really excited and massively flattered,” she enthused of the nomination before this evening’s show - one that had fashion buyers and press trekking to Tottenham Hale, which, in fashion terms, is considered way off the beaten track, but well worth the “trek” to see Martine Rose. “It’s really nerve-wracking because I’m not very good at competitions,” she said of the nomination modestly - an attribute that has in fact become one of her most successful calling cards. This year as London Fashion Week Men’s celebrates its fifth anniversary, she celebrates her tenth: Slow and steady wins the race.
“It’s been quite a trip!” she laughed. “I’m trying to be measured in my response to it [the justified hype] because there can sometimes be a fear that comes with that, in that it’s going to pass or change. But I’m really excited about everything...and I’m having a baby!” It’s all go for sure. “But my natural demeanour is quite relaxed.” And one imagines that helps when, for the past couple of seasons, you’ve also been consulting for the fashion heavy weight that is Balenciaga. “It’s been incredible working alongside the team, such a remarkable experience, I love it! Demna is a great person, a great designer, the team is wonderful - and really it’s my first job, I’ve never worked for anyone; I started my label when I left university pretty much.”
The added role she says has helped her develop her own brand. “You need to think about and be clear about who you are and that’s definitely helped me to be more concise,” she says. And in today’s saturated fashion landscape, that’s a very good thing.
And it’s also partly the Balenciaga buzz that has made her the must-see name on the current schedule, and the reason one must go to Tottenham Hale. But it should be noted that Rose has always had a consistent appeal thanks to her authenticity. “I get much more influenced by things that are affecting my environment, the world. I’ve always kept on my own thing; I’m less interested in trends and currency.” Which is why, at both Balenciaga and for her namesake label, she is in fact making them. One only has to have looked at the student shows this past month to see the effect of this collection. “I was taking inspiration from the underground subculture of the outdoor scene in Toronto in the Eighties and Nineties. I got really wrapped up in the idea of outdoor sports - so Seventies and Eighties climbers.” Hence the location: a climbing arena. A suitably off-piste and punchy location in a week of not so interesting events, and a clever way of staying rooted to what she does whilst circumnavigating the obvious. This was a highlight of the week, and it was always going to be.