For her fourth menswear collection under her eponymous label, Martine Rose has claimed that she found inspiration in Bernini’s sculptures, particularly in the large piece ‘The Rape of Persephone’ housed in Rome’s Galleria Borghese. If, on the surface, the connection between Bernini’s marble depiction of Hades/Pluto’s disturbingly violent kidnapping of Persephone/Proserpine and Rose’s experimental forms may be difficult to discern, the ways in which hands and violent grabbing gestures were subtly introduced into the collection proved to be a triumphant trope. Ultimately, this is an imaginative collection that explores the concepts of touch and texture to develop a playful range of garments.
To start with, the ticket for the show suggested the tactile dimension of Rose’s designs for Spring/Summer 2013: a sheet of rigid orange plastic containing information about the show was crudely stitched onto a piece of black neoprene. The actual collection continued this idea of matching textures by juxtaposing cottons with neoprene in a blocking or panelling process that has been popular with contemporary London designers. In addition, stone-washed denim is used profusely throughout the collection, with a particular emphasis on wide and multi-layered pleated trousers and shorts that evoked high street fashions of the late 1980s and 1990s.
The ambiguous notion of touch as a process that activates technological change (a clear influence of the fictional cyber realities explored in the manifold manifestations of 1990s popular culture), and also as forceful physical appropriation and bruising of the human body as depicted in ‘The Rape of Persephone’, is represented in the indentations of hands and finger tips on neoprene sleeves, cotton knitwear, or as embroidery on denim jackets. In addition, neoprene and snakeskin prints add inquisitive textural qualities to the exploration of tactile possibilities in garments. The choice of colours also pays tribute to street fashions of the 1990s, with white and black juxtaposed with bright oranges and blues.
Martine Rose’s clothes for men have been popular for a few seasons with fashion collectors in London and Tokyo who favour experimentation over practicality. However, and owing to very accomplished shirting and well-tailored trousers as well as the exploration of deep and rich creative meanings, Rose’s Spring/Summer 2013 menswear collection will not only please her established fans but will undoubtedly also secure new followers.