Everyone had front row seating to appreciate the AW’15 collection of Ritienne Zammit. The historically opulent tone of this most prestigious venue, with its magnificent inlaid marble floor acting as the most regal catwalk, gave the perfect backdrop for the collection, which was heavily inspired by Maltese history. Judging by the brilliant collection presented by Ritienne last year along with this year’s powerful venue for the show, expectations were set high for this collection.
“L-omm li tatna isimha!” is the masterful brainchild of designer, Ritienne Zammit. The line got its name from the lyrics of the Maltese National Anthem, written by Dun Karm, translating to “The Mother who gave us our name.”
Opening the show with a promotional video for this collection, the audience was able to gain a brief understanding of the motives behind these designs before seeing them come out on the runway, before their own eyes. In the video, an interpretive portrayal of the Kiss of Judas is acted out by two of the models, signifying the abandonment of Maltese identity. A model is wearing a printed ghonnella, a hooded cloak unique to the Maltese islands, referenced to the early records of the Knights of St John, signifying Maltese identity. Her hands were then tied together with rope by another model, dressed in a printed suit, symbolizing the closing of appreciation toward the country’s identity. A dramatic shock sat deep in the hearts of the audience as the screening came to an end and the first model entered the long corridor that was the runway.
Symbolism and metaphors ran wild through this collection, an artist’s dream, unfolding on the catwalk. There were anatomical hearts patched onto the garments as bust coverage and elbow patches, as well as printed graphics, wistfully, yet patriotically referencing the heart of Dun Mikiel Xerri, who was shot in Palace Square in 1799. Xerri, a Patriot arrested for his attempts at saving Malta from the French forces in the late 1700s, shouted his last words, “May God have pity on us! Long live Malta!” as he was shot in the heart.
Mustaches and hairstyles on models, as well as newsprint, printed in different scales on fabrics, collectively referenced Manwel Dimech, a philanthropist, who encouraged the independence of Malta through the use of the Maltese language as a tool of emancipation. The face of Manwel Dimech, printed on the garments in monochromatic graphics, gave a comic feel to the combinations of rebellious prints.
Monochromatic whites, blacks, and greys juxtaposed the comical use of faux furs, sequins, and thick wool textures. Bright teals, salmon pinks, and dashes of crimson popped up throughout the entire collection. Metallic materials, as well as the familiar see-through plastic used in last year’s collection, was prominent in this line.
Tailored jackets wore newsprint and comical faces printed onto the thick fabrics. Varieties of loose silhouettes featured short jumpsuits, long palazzo pants, and free flowing shirts. Structured side pleated A-line skirts and shift dresses with bateau necklines, along with dapper collared suits showed exemplary tailoring skills.
Stark white brows and bold white lips on models added to the dramatic look of this collection’s entirety. Fabric choices and bold prints allowed the designer to mix the rebellious historical inspiration with the popular comic theme, prominent in design today.
The inspiration behind this collection was proudly derived from poems and quotes by Maltese patriots and poets whose influences shaped the identity of this country. “The aim of this collection is meant to arouse the gratitude of our identity, language, and beliefs.” These were the opening words by Ritienne, herself.
As Ritienne walked the runway with her team of models wearing her full collection, she proudly waved the Maltese flag, smiling in front of Malta Fashion Week’s team of photographers. The largest cheers and applause of the week echoed through the corridors of the Grandmaster’s Palace. A proud statement evoking feelings and emotion, as all great art should, left a colossal impact on many people at that show.
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