True to her roots, Maltese fashion designer, Ritienne Zammit, has summoned some of the largest applause in Malta Fashion Week history. Her designs, famously unconventional and historically inspirational, have won the hearts of the Maltese community. This brand has stapled itself into the local fashion scene through its precise tailoring, offbeat construction details, and strong political messages.

photo courtesy of Kurt Paris

This year’s collection, Je Suis, was aimed at a wider audience than last year’s historically inspired selection. The underlying theme of obsession and addiction- recognizing these issues and sympathizing with people who pass through these hard moments- played into the A/W 2016 tribute to power dressing. With a Depeche Mode soundtrack, the 80s and its historically empowering messages came strongly through this collection, embellished with references to ancient paintings and mythology.

photo courtesy of Justin Ciappara

photo courtesy of Justin Ciappara

photo courtesy of Joseph Lungaro

photo courtesy of Justin Ciappara

Precise tailoring of plush velvet and tweed created dresses, jumpsuits, vests and suits of varying lengths and styles with pleasantly yet powerfully relaxed fits. Floor length long-sleeve dresses exposed backs, decorated with black tassels dangling from necklines and sleeves. Drop-shoulder dresses hugged the body all the way down the legs and a turtleneck trapeze dress fell loosely to the knees, softly swinging tassels around the hem. A long sleeve turtleneck shift held softly to the body as the monochromatic stretch velvet fabric reflected the bright lights. Blazers had a robe-like appearance and trousers were wide legged and cropped. A pair of cropped flares accentuated the wide shoulders on one 80s-style blazer. A leather mini muted a graphically decorated button-down, worn underneath, while suits and separates screamed insanity, covered in bold graphics.

photo courtesy of Joseph Lungaro

photo courtesy of Justin Ciappara

photo courtesy of Justin Ciappara

photo courtesy of Justin Ciappara

Pattern blocking and print collages created a mood board of emotion, while elaborate graphics were major players throughout this collection. Black and white prints revealed Venice Cenitrice- the work of Annibale Carracci, a painting of Paris of Troy and his first wife, Oenone, Pandore, Cleopatra, and other sexual depictions in ancient paintings. Angelic and demonizing paintings contrasted in collages of prints across mini dresses, maxi dresses, tunics, and separates. A long monochromatic grey stretch velvet gown depicted Caravaggio’s “Beheading of Christ” across the checkered fabric. Other garments were flushed with darker orange, red, and blue tones – a color scheme characteristic of Caravaggio’s famous paintings. Caravaggio’s realistic observation of the human state – both physical and emotional – with a masterful skill of creating dramatic lighting in his paintings assists this clever Maltese designer in shining a light on a raw human state of obsession through her ingenious combinations of artistic elements. Contrasting dollar symbols, hexagon motifs, and “Je Suis” in black graffiti decorated garments, adding a pop art twist to the darker Baroque aesthetic.

photo courtesy of Jason Spiteri

True to form, Ritienne’s props were minimal yet climactic. Several models carried hairless cats close to their bodies as they powerfully walked down the runway. The men had black tape across their lips, as if to hold their secrets inside. Backpacks revealing different celebrity quotes, carried eyes all the way down the runway as watchers tried to read the words, boldly written in black ink that read:

“Money doesn’t excite me, my ideas excite me.” – Walt Disney.

“Whether you sniff it, smoke it, eat it, or shove it up your ass, the result is the same: addiction.” -William Shakespeare

“Sex is an emotion in motion.” -Mae West

“History repeats itself.”

photo courtesy of Justin Ciappara

photo courtesy of Justin Ciappara

photo courtesy of Benjamin Sant

To experience a fashion show produced by Ritienne Zammit, is to experience a requiem of eccentric fabrics and materials, juxtaposed into an emotional story. Expertise in tailoring and attention to detail tie together all of the pieces of this intricate political puzzle and transcends her catwalk experience into an unfolding rebellious artist’s dream.

photo courtesy of Benjamin Sant

featured image courtesy of Kurt Paris

 

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