Martine Rose is one of the most anticipated shows of the season. Partly because there isn’t anything quite like a Martine Rose show - there are snacks, drinks, music, and interesting locations - and partly because Rose is a designer who flits between presentation, film, runway or look-book. You indulgently consume as much as you can (literally and metaphorically) because you never know when Rose might put you back on her runway diet. Last season Rose did a 'greatest hits' look-book to great success but when news of a show at St Leonard’s Square in Kentish Town spread, the fash-pack salivated.
St Leonard’s Square means a lot to Martine Rose. 'It’s where friends and family live, it’s a cul-de-sac community, a hubbub of love and loyalty. London is going through a funny time at the moment,' says Rose after the show. 'I wanted to celebrate London.' We arrive to find that Rose has commandeered the entire street, locals are popping heads from windows, children are dancing and jigging as a medley of Reggae classics play overhead, and macaroni cheese and sardines are circulating. One thought of Margiela’s 'experimental' show formats. This was as honest and familiar; editors were sat next to uncles, buyers next to breastfeeding mothers. It’s refreshing in such a way only Rose knows how to pull off.
Familiar is an apt word to describe the clothes that followed too. Bomber style jackets, bootleg jeans, gold chains, leopard print, loafers - most things, on the surface, seemed to step right from an old episode of Eastenders, or a London market or party. But here they were given that excitable Rose personality. Straight leg jean was transformed with see-through snakeskin-like texture, loafers had abrupt square toes and were backless. It was a contradiction of being worn and pre-loved, new and exciting, - as if finding a total gem at a vintage store. 'I washed everything. I wanted it to feel like it had been worn before,' said Rose.
The addition of her core collection, wide trousers, logo t-shirts etc, means Rose can really flex her stylings and experiment with these runway looks. There were elements of Vetements and Balenciaga here, but really the three are pointless to compare. Lest we forget, it’s Rose before Demna, not the other way around. The nineties, over-clashing of print and texture, making luxury look second hand - we’ve seen these tropes before, but Rose has been the catalyst for over ten years.
Calling upon her clubbing memories, Speed and Strawberry Sundaes, for example, Rose pulled these emblems into the now. Spray painted jeans, a rave flyer moment from archive, little cross-body fringed bags and denim and tracksuit hybrid trouser, it was brilliantly over-referenced and covetable. As press leave, backstage Rose comments: 'Music has the power to bring people together.’ It's evident, so does Martine.