While the schedule for Men’s Fashion Week this year was definitely on the sparser side, it meant that the brands who did show had the opportunity to forge more of an impact. And what better way to do so than to show off-schedule, in Vauxhall, and keep things shrouded in mystery?
For Martine Rose, the devil is in the details. Taking place inside a tunnel, attendees sat in the centre of a walk-around runway, which was flanked on both sides by black latex curtains. Inspiring many to get up and feel them, the staging set the precedent for what was to come – a diverse lineup of models all appearing to stumble to or from a dark, sensual and wild night out – outfits partially intact.
After a two year long hiatus, Martine Rose presented an ode to awkward sexual encounters – ‘dressing and undressing’, as well as a playful re-examination of proportion. A central, new silhouette, dubbed the ‘shrunken silhouette’, grounded the collection in this concept: tight on the torso, but leaving the rest of the garment as is on ‘regular’ fit. In setting up this simultaneous constriction and freedom of movement, Martine Rose introduced a sense of tension and energy to the collection.
Elsewhere, the accessories and styling helped to carve out this narrative further. Fly’s were left deliberately undone, or drawn attention to with the help of an oversized ring pull zip fastening. Earrings were left attached to the card they’re sold on before being worn down the catwalk, and photos of erogenous areas of the body were worn on dog tag jewellery.
It was a playful expression as much as it was a varied one; Rose used an extreme low-back on strictly-tailored tops just as easily as she blended tight leather with baggy denim. These looks recalled notions of American workwear, with allusions to the aesthetic made clear when styled with various baseball caps. Other looks tapped sports styles in their consistency: track tops and tracksuits referenced the iconic shell suits of the 90s, with Martine Rose branded sports bags complementing.
Shown alongside offerings that could count as workwear, the result was akin to the melting pot of individuals found crammed into a club, perhaps after work. There was something for everyone – baby tee to trench coat – and that was the point.
On foot, we saw a Nike collab elevate sneakers into more formal silhouettes, like squared off toes or a subtle midheel boost. The brand’s signature Bulb Toe shoe from AW22 was also reworked for this collection – exaggerated into its most extreme version, and now represented as a heel, a Chelsea boot and Workboot.
Pounding down the catwalk to thumping techno, models appeared to disappear into a literal light at the end of the tunnel: stumbling back into harsh morning light, or in search of the next party. With endings ambiguous and the catwalk hazy with smoke, one thing remained clear: wherever Rose’s wearers are going, we’re following.
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