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When Demna discovered Martine Rose's talent

The designer's career began within the walls of Balenciaga

When Demna discovered Martine Rose's talent The designer's career began within the walls of Balenciaga

Who is Martine Rose? The name of the Anglo-Jamaican designer is certainly not new to fashion fans, especially now that together with those of Grace Wales Bonner and Telfar Clemens she seems to be among those candidates to fill the role left vacant by Louis Vuitton after the untimely death of Virgil Abloh last year. Only a few days ago Kanye West, who had not failed to express his admiration for Rose's work, had shared in one of his many Instagram posts a pair of Nike Air Monarchs created by the designer, the same one who a few months ago had also collaborated with Nike to create a special jersey for the England national soccer team, once again reaffirming the Anglo-Jamaican designer's role of total relevance.

But well before her rise, Martine Rose's career began in 2015 when Demna Gvasalia, Balenciaga's recent creative director, chose her to work with him on his first menswear line for the brand. «He contacted me before he was at Balenciaga saying he liked what I was doing,» Martine Rose had told hypebae, describing the genesis of a collaboration that took shape in June 2016 in the Spring 2017 collection. It was AnOther magazine in a 2020 article that recounted the behind-the-scenes story of that collection designed by Rose and Demna to include damask and lace embedded in the pants and other garments of the collection where, despite a still immature form, between square-shouldered jackets and cowboy boots the hands of the two designers are visible. That lace, bought by Rose herself from a supplier to the Holy See in Paris, has a singular history, as told by the designer to Alexander Fury: «I bought a Lewis Leathers jacket from Camden Market, which had ‘Wankers’ written in Tipp-Ex on the back. I didn’t know what to expect – but I didn’t expect actual fucking nuns to be working there.» Although Martine Rose's work at Balenciaga lasted only three years concluding in 2018, that experience was not only proof of the designer's business talent but also an unexpected lifeline for Rose who until then, as she told AnOther, saw fashion as "an expensive hobby."

«I was still working in bars, doing squats,» she had recounted. «It didn’t become a feasible career until really far down the line, basically until Demna was like, ‘I like what you do. Do you want to come and do it here?» The meeting with Demna seemed like one of those written in destiny, the perfect match between two incredibly similar DNAs able to merge giving both a way to express themselves. It is no coincidence that among the hallmarks of Martine Rose's work are the logos, often a hundred of her designs in parody versions, from the Carlsberg-style one to the one that echoed the Pirelli logo. It was during her work at Balenciaga, it was the Autumn/Winter 2017 menswear show, that the Political Logo made its debut, a parody of the one used by Bernie Sanders in his election campaign, and became one of the most recognizable symbols of the brand under Demna's leadership. So while the future of Louis Vuitton is being decided in the secret rooms of LVMH, someone in the Kering group is rooting for Martine Rose.