Friday 25th September

| BY Paul Toner

Martine Rose: Menswear SS21

Martine Rose has never been one to play by the rules. Long before big-name brands began dropping off the fashion schedule and doing things by their own accord, Rose was dragging the fashion pack up to Tottenham for catwalks inside markets and rock climbing centres, showing collections that consisted of simply one look and skipping seasons entirely. It’s no surprise, then, that amidst a global pandemic, Rose dropped her SS21 around 8:30pm on a Thursday evening, without warning, tied to no particular schedule at all. Not London, nor Milan or Paris.

Rose is an architect of subversion when it comes to toying with hyper-masculine codes. She often looks to vintage gay erotica and fetish to inform her own unique interpretations of the banker’s suit, or contemporary athletic attire. On the surface, these may appear as just great clothes for the modern man. It takes those with a trained eye, that are in the know, to spot the hidden, homoerotic codes woven within their seams.

For SS21, the designer turned to on-going collaborator and rave historian Steve Terry of Wild Life Archive who helped her source photographs from the 1970s San Francisco underground gay scene. Such images are stamped onto denim twinsets, which include this season’s staple jacket silhouette: a smashing wraparound number akin to a Karate Karategi uniform, accompanied with a matching tie belt, too.

We’re given a fly-on-the-wall view into a series of mock-up rooms (separated by Covid-proof shields) as models flaunt their best assets to their laptops; some with their trousers down by their ankles. Think of it as the Big Brother house, if it was filled with OnlyFans stars.

A voyeuristic inception of sorts, this tribe of Peeping Toms flaunt their own niche takes of fetish-wear. The designer’s signature oversized silhouettes are shrunken so gym bags resemble clutches and office attire now clings to the body; worn with garter belts, suspenders and footy socks-cum-sheer stockings (very naughty, indeed). Hedonistic floral prints, neon mini-dresses and black moc-croc full leather looks nod to Rose’s continuous homage to rave (as a child she would join her cousins of a Sunday on Clapham Common as they carried on the party from the night before).

Yet the collection’s ultimate highlights comes via a series of women’s silky lingerie pieces now made for men – either peaking beneath business suits or transformed into shirts; trimmed with lace at the sleeve and dotted with the designer’s R monogram. It doesn’t matter what gets you off, or what kind of kinks you’re into – these are cracking pieces that will look just as good on as they would on the bedroom floor.

Photography by Heji Shin.