The British designer’s Spring/Summer 2024 show, held in sweltering heat in a north London community centre, celebrated the sexiness of androgynous dress codes
Yesterday evening, Martine Rose staged her Spring/Summer 2024 men’s show on the hottest day of the year so far. At a cosy community centre on Highgate Hill in north London, guests sat in clusters around small pub tables, fanning themselves with bespoke beer mats in the heat as they waited for the show to begin. Since establishing her eponymous brand in 2007, Rose has crafted a hyper-specific type of clothing that speaks to club culture, subculture, sleaziness, and the overlooked beauty of the everyman. “I am interested in the everyday and I really do see the beauty in everyday things and everyday people,” she said last season of her Pitti show in Florence. “I find beauty in things that are easy to not find beauty in … things that are easy to dismiss.”
The weather on Sunday evening felt perfect for Rose’s particular brand of seediness; the unavoidable musk of sweat and fog lingering in the velvet curtain-lined space of St Joseph’s Parish Centre made the show feel like an after hours lock-in at a local pub, the kind where sweat drips from the ceiling following hours of dancing. As usual, the music was a scintillating mashup of reggae, dance and country music, which Rose said was a big – and surprising – part of her upbringing in Jamaica thanks to her grandparents.
This season, Rose’s usual motley crew of streetcast models blurred the lines between gendered dress codes, with men in lacy camisoles, tight 1930s satin girdles that barely graced the nipple, and ultra-long chains of pearls that fell to the crotch. Women wore wet-look crumpled suits in leather, hinting at biker culture, while a utilitarian thread manifested itself throughout the collection via glowing high-vis jackets and trousers. “I love playing with gender lines. I think it’s very sexy,” Rose said backstage. “I find men in women’s clothes sexy, and I find women in men’s clothes sexy.” Other highlights included a yellow bomber weighed down with hundreds of pins, badges and aluminium fizzy drink tabs, fluffy strapless ear muffs (which looked like overexaggerated sideburns, but on women), miniature matchstick earrings, and mules created in collaboration with Clarks, where Rose is currently serving as guest creative director.
After the show ended, guests and models milled about outside the community centre, drinking and chatting as dusk approached and the temperature finally fell. “Community centres are vital, they’re a lifeline to people,” Rose said, referencing the Turkish, West Indian and Polish community centres that exist in London thanks to the influx of immigrants over time. “It actually made my day, earlier Helen said that us doing the show here might help the venue to stop from closing,” she said. St Joseph’s Parish Centre may be just one of many locally funded community venues facing brutal government cuts, but on Sunday evening, in the name of fashion, it served its purpose perfectly; as a place for people to gather – no matter their class, ethnicity, age or belief system – and exchange ideas.