A Rose by any other name? We don’t know her. London menswear designer Martine Rose is the gold standard, you see. Much-loved & collected for her off-kilter, tongue-in-cheek designs (the AW13 “Probably The Best Designer in The World” print comes to mind) & left-field presentations (staged anywhere from a rock climbing centre to a London cul-de-sac or Seven Sisters indoor market), at-face-value style is not what you’re after when you’re sporting a Martine Rose fit. Having worked with everyone from Timberland, CAT Boots, Mykita, BEENTRILL, Napapijri and most recently the unforgettable, lumptastic Nike Air Monarch IV collab, Ms. Rose knows the power of a great mind-meld. Let’s take a walk down Martine Road.
Martine Rose grew up in South London, as part of a big Jamaican family. Nineties rave and reggae reigned supreme as Rose took it all in. “I remember being very aware of different types of people coming together,” she told Ssense in an interview. “It’s difficult to describe because it was so much more of a feeling or a sense of something, which is actually how I design.” Also noting to The Guardian: “I remember watching my siblings and cousins getting ready to go out clubbing. Clubs were the start of it for me. I started going out when I was pretty young and even then I loved looking at what clothes signified.”
As a Middlesex University alumnus (class of ‘02), Martine created her first label ‘LMNOP’ together with Tamara Rothstein, fashion director for cult darling publication Marfa Journal and current Martine Rose stylist. When ‘LMNOP’ folded in 2005, Rose launched a men’s shirts brand. People took notice and placed orders, so young designer incubator Fashion East offered their support. Martine Rose also picked up the British Fashion Council ’s NEWGEN MEN awards in 2014 and in 2017, the cult favourite was nominated for the prestigious ANDAM prize for emerging designers. Industry acclaim notwithstanding, Rose has always pushed back and done things on her own terms and schedule, which also lead to a consulting gig for Demna Gvasalia. “It all happened through photographer Ollie Pearch. We were working together and he mentioned Demna wanted to meet me. We sent each other mutual appreciation emails and when he got Balenciaga he asked me to Paris. I didn’t even know Balenciaga did menswear. But doing that has been a huge experience”, Rose reminisced to The Guardian. Designing for the self-proclaimed ‘dodgy man of her dreams’, the Martine Rose brand rises on. “What I do is tell a story about masculinity. All different versions – including awkward and weird. It’s not how men look that makes them sexy”, Rose shared with AnOther.
Today, you can get your MR fix from all of the e-tailer & brick-and-mortar big fish. We’re talking Barneys New York, SSense, Matches, VIER Antwerp, Nordstrom, Henrik Vibskov, United Legend, Antonioli, SlamJam, Oki-Ni, Hypebeast, LN-CC, Matches, Très Bien, Wer-Haus, Machine-A, Browns, H. Lorenzo, Farfetch, Notre - the list carries on and would like to request a 5-minute break. Despite being in the menswear category, the Martine Rose label has always beloved by all gender definitions and expressions. And thus, we continue to stan and give Ms. Rose her flowers.
Header image: Piczo