Dear Shaded Viewers and Diane,
Up north in Tottenham last night, munching on mango and goat cheese bruschettas, a fashion crowd had gathered at the Stronghold Climbing Centre, curiously at ease. Martine Rose, whose status as a nearly legendary figure in London’s contemporary menswear scene had certainly convinced many to take the trip, had chosen location and food to promote the local businesses, and celebrate the community she herself is part of. A simple gesture, but one that most would deem unpractical – the fact that she doesn’t think that way already suggests where Rose’s priorities lie. The offhand authenticity of her approach met this season a outdoorsy inspiration: her springtime muses are climbers, golfers, and bicycle couriers such as the ones captured in Trevor Hughes’ Bike Messengers series, shot in Toronto between 1992 and 1998. The decade’s underground club culture has long been a source of reference for her designs – one may venture that she pioneered the great 90s comeback we’ve just been through – and traces of its style keep on living in her wide-legged denims and cargos, and indeed, even those biking shorts. Still, it’s the everyman first and foremost that this collection pays tribute to. There’s something solid, irresistibly ordinary about it, that appeals to the sensibilities of our time – our bruised ambitions in the wake of the economic crisis, the shushed comforts we found in normcore. Pockets are styled with pens, fleeces tucked into trousers. the ‘M’ of Martine is refashioned into a version of the MTV logo, from way back when it used to be cool. Although perhaps, also from way back when it just about no longer was. In fact, this may just be the point. There’s a cleverly uncool, almost fatherly side to Rose’s man this season, from his choice of pastimes – climbing, golfing, cycling – to the off-duty corporate looks that carry through from her previous collection, boxy suiting but tieless, loosened shirts – some even in a vaguely glossy, cream striped pattern. Together with a couple of pencil skirt options for women, the scene they set is that of an unlikely, but awesome, office outing to the Climbing Centre. The workplace dress code is liberally tweaked to suit a new environment. The silhouette innovation focused this season especially on the waistline, with triple-waist bottoms leaving just enough space to slip in the ultimate accessory: a red money belt. It was so bad, but now is just so good. It’s what fashion does when it works.