There’s something to be said about the sense of joyful—and not trauma-catalyzed, like in the U.S.—communal vignettes coming out of the U.K. lately. Broadscale, we all know: The marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was the spectacle of all spectacles, but it was arguably more enjoyable given the ebullient public inclusion on display (watched, in the end, by nearly 2 billion people worldwide). Tonight, for Martine Rose’s Spring show, a tiny family street located in a neighborhood called Chalk Farm had a much smaller yet fundamentally similar feeling: Rose staged her runway on a cul-de-sac called St. Leonard’s Square, and its residents were invited to sit with fashion editors and VIPs. One man parked himself in the front row, his three granddaughters giddy at his side, clutching stuffed animals and sitting on the asphalt in an awestruck huddle. Another group drank red wine in their garden, happy to let the scene play out while enjoying the last rays of a warm summer Sunday. Virgil Abloh and Luka Sabbat were there, too. It was eclectic and pleasant to witness. The same can predominantly be said of the clothes. They were—the whole experience was—“a bit of a love letter, really, to London,” said Rose.
This designer is right up at the top of menswear’s most influential (note, she has worked with Demna Gvasalia as a consultant on Balenciaga’s men’s line). And her natural élan—she’s incredibly unpretentious—seems to deliver these unicorn items that you’ve never considered, and then, suddenly, consider obsessively. For Spring, this roster ran long: DIY-style jeans with metal O-rings looped down the outer seams; denim-track pant hybrids; really good oddball outerwear like Rose’s signature doctored jackets (leopard and denim, in a vintage-store-find kind of way); and a grossly good Hawaiian shirt series.
Rose’s latest may have also been a weather vane pointing toward a more psychedelic, speedier space. A space that’s a little dirtier, in a good way. The ’90s as a trend is not new, but there was a roughened richness, a sense of unboxed nostalgia, that recalled the designer’s musical youth in particular. “The rave scene, drum and bass, U.K. garage . . .” she listed. She also tapped into something slightly earlier: ’80s-era “Wide Boy” culture, with square-toed shoes and big old leather coats. And as “The Only One I Know” by The Charlatans and “Funky Punk” by Dillinger filled the annex, beers in hand and cigarettes swinging, Rose’s intent appeared accomplished. “We’re all going through a bit of a funny time at the minute, and I think we’re in need of a bit of love.”
To view on Vogue Runway, click here.