The Newgen-sponsored designer tells graeme moran why she’s delighted that menswear now being taken seriously in London.
You’re showing your spring 13 collection on June 14, how is it coming along considering the announcement of London Collections: Men has made your production time much shorter?
It’s a challenge definitely, especially to juggle production and sampling literally alongside each other. That is the catch but it’s definitely a small price to pay for London to have its first men’s week. It means that menswear in London is finally being taken seriously and that designers will finally be showing in the right season when the buyers have their books open.
Tell us about the new collection?
The inspiration came from Bernini’s sculpture ‘The Rape of Persephone’. It’s so beautiful because it appears to completely defy the fact that it is made from marble. This is the main theme - fabrics that seem to defy their nature. It has a very sporty feeling this season and I have been really inspired by form and texture and throwing opposing aesthetics together, alongside some really interesting techniques that we have been developing in the studio.
As an ‘up-and-coming’ designer, what can the industry do to offer more support?
There is a wealth of support in London, far more than any other city. You can really start here with nothing and grow a successful business. Buyers, bar the odd few, however can be a little conservative and unwilling to take a punt on you, which can be frustrating. Especially when you go to huge department stores in Hong Kong or Japan where there is a massive representation of British designers on the shop floor.
Do you find it easier or harder designing men’s clothes as a woman?
No it feels very natural to design menswear actually. It fits with my natural aesthetic; I’m definitely not a girly girl, quite a tomboy in fact so I have always been drawn to menswear.
Would you ever design womenswear?
Yes! In my last two shows I have had two women’s looks. Before starting Martine Rose, I ran a small label that was womenswear - originally it was all about the girls!
You’ve collaborated with Timberland and CAT in the past, any more collaborations in the pipeline?
I am always approached by brands to collaborate on something, but I think that it’s worth waiting until the right one comes along. There should be a genuine synergy between what they do and what I do, then the potential is really exciting. So yes there are collaborations in the pipeline, watch this space!
What has been your career highlight?
It’s difficult to define one. I remember the day Lulu Kennedy [founder of Fashion East] came to my tiny off-schedule show; it was basically my first indication that I was being registered in the industry. Also being able to seat my mum and dad front row at my first MAN show and being selected as one of the NEW GEN designers.
Who do you like to see wearing your designs?
Joe Bloggs - the guy on the street that’s the best high then you know that you’re doing something right.
What other designers do you admire?
Christopher Shannon is really clever, he absolutely knows who he is and who his customer is and delivers every time. Lou Dalton’s menswear is just beautiful luxury. Matthew Miller’s mix of tailoring and sportswear. Louise Gray for her fearlessness and sense of fun. To be honest I admire most of my contemporaries because this is not the easy road, it’s really hard. I know that that sounds like I’m slapping myself on the back, it’s not intended to sound that way, but all of the designers I know sacrifice something in order to do this - time, money, security and I admire that.
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
I don’t really live for the weekend because I don’t work a nine to five, so you are just as likely to find me propping up a bar on a Tuesday night as you are on a Saturday night! Actually, I love working on the weekend. It has a different, calmer vibe and the benefit of feeling completely virtuous!
How would you describe your personal style?
It totally depends, for work I am really boring - worn jeans and a holey T shirt most likely. I’m not a shopper at all, there are things in my wardrobe that I have had since I was 18. I just wear what I like, sometimes that results in a crazy get up that doesn’t match at all and looks bonkers, at other times my De la Soul T-shirt from my teenage years and a pair of jeans.
Where do you go to get inspired?
I can be just as inspired by going to Brixton market as I can going to the Barbican.
Which menswear trend do you wish would disappear?
Flip flops with shorts in the city is a pet hate.
If you could dress anyone, who would it be?
Barak Obama, the leader of the free world of course!