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Festa skyline illuminates New York Fashion Week

Designers Charles and Ron said that their collection, ‘Saints, Love and Mediterranean lights’ was shown as part of the Art Hearts Fashion Week and was held at the Neo Gothic landmark, the Angel Orensanz Foundation.

Martina Borg
7 March 2016, 10:19am
Two of Malta's leading designers Charles and Ron have shown their designs for the fourth time at the prestigious Art Hearts fashion show as part of the New York Fashion Week
Two of Malta's leading designers Charles and Ron have shown their designs for the fourth time at the prestigious Art Hearts fashion show as part of the New York Fashion Week
Colourful church lights illuminating the night skies on summer nights formed the seed of inspiration for the dynamic duo of Maltese fashion designers Charles and Ron in the crafting of their stunning Autumn/Winter collection. 

“We always try to use elements of Mediterranean and Maltese heritage and architecture in our designs,” Ron Maarschalkerweerd told MaltaToday upon returning from New York, where the designers showed their new collection during the highly acclaimed New York Fashion Week on 16 February.

The designers said that their collection, ‘Saints, Love and Mediterranean lights’ was shown as part of the Art Hearts Fashion Week and was held at the Neo Gothic landmark, the Angel Orensanz Foundation.

“Although it’s now the fourth time we have shown our designs at New York Fashion Week, it continues to feel unreal, like you have to pinch yourself to remember it’s actually happening,” he said. 

The collection features colours like Cardinal pink, saffron yellow and red to further emphasise the ecclesiastical theme
The collection features colours like Cardinal pink, saffron yellow and red to further emphasise the ecclesiastical theme
Ron explained that although the arduous preparation for such shows had become something of a routine, it always filled them with a sense of pride to be able to represent Maltese designs on an international stage. 

“We draw inspiration from our culture and heritage, while ensuring an element of universal appeal in our design,” he said, describing the process behind their garments. 

Ron added, however, that people liked designs to tell a story, and their interest always peaked when designers explained what inspired many of the motifs and colours in a collection. 

“If you look at the island from a distance at night in summer, you see the distinctive coloured lights outlining the shape of the various churches,” Ron said, adding that they had tried to capture this characteristic in their garments. He added that an ecclesiastical theme was also sustained through colour choices among others, throughout the collection. 

The patterns were inspired by the colourful festa lights outlining churches in the night summer sky
The patterns were inspired by the colourful festa lights outlining churches in the night summer sky
Ron added that the theme had in fact pervaded the colour choices for their designs with cardinal pink, and black, yellow and orange featuring heavily.

“We also made use of capes in many of our designs, as well as actual patterns taken from St Helen’s church in Birkirkara,” he said, adding that the church had also inspired a crown motif and words like ‘Empress’ and ‘Saint’ on accessories such as belts and bags. 

Asked about the feedback received for their collection, Ron said that they had received an overwhelmingly positive response, with a number of people asking when their designs would be available for purchase, but he hastened to add that they would naturally have to wait until autumn to be able to purchase these items. 

 Accessories bearing words like ‘Saint’, and the use of capes complemented the ecclesiastical theme chosen for the garments
Accessories bearing words like ‘Saint’, and the use of capes complemented the ecclesiastical theme chosen for the garments
“We already have a number of followers in New York, including journalists and celebrities among others,” he said, adding that Orange the New Black actress Jessica Pimentel was among those in attendance at the show, wearing a design from their Fall 15 Collection.

As one of the country’s leading fashion houses, Ron explained that they were proud of having the opportunity to represent the local fashion scene on an international scale. 

“The local fashion scene has definitely developed significantly over the years, and we hope that we have set a certain pace and trend in showing local designers that it’s possible to grow even outside our shores,” he explained.

Capes and crown motifs complement the general theme of the collection
Capes and crown motifs complement the general theme of the collection
He added that it wasn’t just the industry in itself and the opportunities it offered that had led to the changes in the local scene, but that the change would not have been achieved without the accompanying shift in the public’s mentality.

“People have become increasingly appreciative and supportive of local talent,” he said, adding that a lot still needed to be done to make international recognition more of a possibility. 

The models strutted on the runway in the impressive and feminine designs, toting the designers' own bags and Manolo Blahnik pumps
The models strutted on the runway in the impressive and feminine designs, toting the designers' own bags and Manolo Blahnik pumps
Although you might think showing at the prestigious event would mark the pinnacle of a designer’s year, Ron explained that the fashion house was also planning to participate in New York Fashion Week again in September, as well as holding an exhibition at Galeries Lafayette in Paris in April.

“We won’t just be focusing on international events,” he said, adding that the designers would also hold a show in Malta later this year. 

“We haven’t held a fashion show locally in a very long time, and we think it’s time to do so,” he added.

Martina Borg focuses on lifestyle and society issues
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