Patrick Michael Hughes Senior Fashion Editor- Men's Fashion Writer
LONDON: London Fashion Week, June menswear shows are creeping back into the fashion,fold with a smaller showing of designers and less online presentations. There seems to be a push toward live events. Martine Rose a Black British designer of Jamaican decent presented her first runway collection in two years. The post COVID showing was off schedule and off site in a neighborhood of London known for its historic LGBTQ nightlife. The venue was a tunnel arch way opposite Vauxhalll Pleasure Gardens in the Kennington neighborhood. The area has had a rich sexual history of brothels, nightlife, drunkenness, danger, debauchery and public toilets since the early eighteenth century. It was a place where historically fashion and high culture embraced the seedy underside of titillation and excess.
The Spring 2023 collection was presented against a backdrop of latex curtains,the model's hair styling was slicked in grease, the venue was crowed, the body heat and perspiration were part of the experience seeing the clothes and models. “I wanted people to smell the latex, I wanted people to see the sweat on their bodies, I wanted people to feel the energy as they walked past,” Rose stated in an interview. The sounds of panting tantric breath and thumping classic reggae tracks by the late Jacob Miller who was killed on tour in a car accident in 1980. 'Baby I Love You So' sums up so much of what Martin Rose is interested in. When IRK attended her collection two years ago it was a wonderful mashup of London Underground meets nineties rave culture sealed disheveled wigs, western motifs and reggae.
The clothing for the forthcoming season was filled with the sharp tailored jackets in oversize silhouettes recalling the later forties version of the rebel Zoot suit. The collection was an observation of creative styles on a variety of people and bodies in the street. They are all ready to return to nightlife and subculture activities. The looks celebrated a tension between colorful club ready track suits to office party looks featuring super short shift dresses partnered with long jackets. The fabrication was tight and pulled against the body accentuating the torso, limbs and crotches. This was part of the designer's overall fashion shift to a "shrunken torso". The innuendo carried through to miss zipped crotch areas with dangling key chain accessories. The trench coats were tightly belted and was the fit of biker jackets, bomber jackets and sleeveless leather vests. Words such as hasty, hurried, frenzied dressing and undressing were the styling goals of this collections suggesting “urgent sexual encounters”.
Rose included earrings left in their packaging and S&M details which enhanced the rushed, sordid sexuality of this collection. "Caught in the act" as it was observed also highlighted Rose's flair for minimalism particularly in the women's dress fashions. Over all the men's fashion had a throwback nineties grunge and even vintage look of the late seventies London street fashion. The strong and brand recognizable tailoring worked stylishly with Rose's new exploration of proportion and fit against the curves of the body.
There were moments in the collection were one wondered if fashion was anticipating a new generation of infused Vicious and Rotten anarchy due to pent-up and fed-up COVID life. It has been noted that the designer was early to show oversize silhouettes now a fashion direction in the designer men's market.
Martine Rose's cult following has yielded a new business partnership with NIKE an angular square toe shoe (a nod to the nineties) it will be a hit with sneaker collectors. The shoe which was featured on the runway has been described as a “hybrid between a dress shoe and a trainer”.