Her star grows season upon season. Czech-born Martina Spetlova joined the fashion course at Central Saint Martins and graduated in 2010. Now based in London, this gorgeous face lately considered one of the most promising talents, has done internships with Jeremy Scott and John Galliano. We got the chance to talk with this new insider who decided to join forces with film director Marnie Hollande for the creation of her impressive SS14 collection.
What was it like growing up in Prague?
Actually, I grew up in a small town in Bohemia, in the South of Czech Republic, but I attended school in Prague at the time of the velvet revolution. It was an exciting time to be there, being able take part in the demonstrations and witness all changes that followed.
Chemistry has played an specific role in your career...
Yes, I got a Chemistry degree before moving to London and studying Fashion at St. Martins. I’ve found there are subtle similarities in the way you make chemical experiments and the way I approach my textiles, even though working with textiles is more free than following recipes to document chemical reactions, which is a lot more precise. I am always trying to find ways to treat standard fabrics and leather skins to give them different structural properties, like bonding, pleating and crushing and weaving leathers and silks. I guess there's some sort of correlation there.
Which was the starting point that got you into fashion?
I was always making my own clothes while I was growing up. My mum was always very creative in the way she dressed my sisters and me, and it was her who taught me how to sew and knit. I never really thought of studying Fashion until I was in London, helping with theatre costumes and interning. A friend, who was at CSM, helped me prepare a portfolio and off I went for an interview. I was not really aware at that point of how competitive Central Saint Martins is, but I had a great interview with the tutors from the Fashion Print course and I was lucky enough to be accepted. From then on it’s been a long journey through college up to MA, until finally setting up my label.
What inspires you on your day to day?
It would be East London ,where I live and work. Its a very creative and multicultural area. I spend most of my time around Dalston and Hackney.
Where does your attraction for zig-zag and patchwork come from?
Everything I do always end up having lots of graphic combinations and patchworks of textiles- I can’t help it!
Is mixing bold blocks of colours with leather another part of your signature?
I love bright colours and I love working with leather so I guess that’s why it’s becoming one of my trademarks! Especially my hand woven leather and satin tapes technique, which I developed at my studio three seasons ago and is still getting press. There’s lots of hard hand-work involved but I like the way the craftsmanship becomes modern in style and almost 3-D to touch.
How did your SS14 collection start?
I tend to build each collection from the point where I left off the previous one, as I find there is always much more to explore and develop from the textiles I am working on. I have already mentioned my woven leather which I discovered while exploring different zigzag patterns.I also used double pleated silk organza, which came from collaborating with a skilled pleater in North London. I experimented with a variety of pleating forms and transferred them onto soft fabrics to later apply those on various combinations and shapes.
You say you have no interest in producing garments with flat surfaces. Am I right?
That is true, however, there are some flat surfaces in my AW14/15 collection, as I am using beautiful patent leather. Never say never!
Who is the Martina Spetlova's woman?
Strong and confident, someone who appreciates high quality craftsmanship.
A few words about the Chloe Textile Award you won?
Central Saint Martins had this competition during my first year of my MA studies and the team of Chloe studio designers came to see our work in progress. It was a great opportunity for all of us to show our work and get valuable feedback. I was then working on my textiles for my MA collection and they loved the multimedia approach, the textures and my colour choices. It was a great surprise to be chosen for the award.
You've worked with Jeremy Scott and John Galliano. Tell us about it.
I did an internship with Jeremy Scott in the EEUU for three months after my first year at college. It was my first internship and I loved it. I loved Jeremy’s small team, the 'mummies' collection we were working on, and living in LA. For my year out in industry I accepted an offer to go to Paris and join the John Galliano menswear team for foue months, it was interesting to work on a menswear collection. Hopefully, I will use that experience one day soon.
There is also a film for your SS14 collection. Explain us a little more about this artistic performance.
I wanted to make a fashion film which didn't have the model dancing past with the garments. Just like the collection itself, both films focus on the new textures and patterns present in the SS14 collection. I made the leather hoods to create a striking and provocative imagery for the film as well as creating two characters, a yin and a yang, who would convey the beauty and harshness of my work. The hoods were inspired by a photo of a vintage Pucci ski mask and, of course, were a nod to the Pussy Riot girls. My good friend and great film director Marnie Hollande was the perfect person to work with, having been working with performance artists already. We created two films, one soft and floaty, the other harsh with heavy music. The films were then presented in an interactive way during London Fashion Week. They could be triggered by models at the presentation, depending on where they moved, the models wearing my collection would essentially just Dj the music and film.
What's your opinion regarding the fashion industry?
It’s too fast. It's not just about all the different fashion weeks and collections one has to attend throughout the year, it's also about the quality of garments. Besides, it's very hard to compete with big brands since younger companies have to have cheaper prices but still good quality and innovation in their work. There is lots of competition, especially in womanswear, and I know competition can be positive but it does grind you down!
Which things aesthetically appeal to you the most?
Ah... tricky question. There are lots of different things I consider beautiful. In terms of design and fashion I think that for pieces to be truly beautiful the beauty and usability needs to be in achieving a good balance, and all the many factors of the design process have to be in harmony. That is something I’m trying to accomplish in my own work.
Who/what are your influences?
Bodymap, tribal textiles, Albert Hoffman, Tesla, Issey Miyake, Werner Herzog.
And what are your indulgences?
A coffee and fresh croissant for breakfast in Paris.
Why did you decide to open you studio in London?
After graduating from MA and showing my collection at London Fashion Week as part of the official Central Saint Martins catwalk show, I had enough interest in my work to think that opening my own studio might be good idea.
Give me three words to describe yourself.
Spetlova rules OK!
When you are not designing, what do you do on you spare time?
I do lots of things. I haven’t got much spare time to be honest, as I’m also lecturing at the University of Arts in Warsaw, so any free time I might have I try to squeeze as much as possible. But I always go and visit my family and spend time with my partner and friends.
What does the future hold for you?
Boom or bust.
A few words on the next collection...
My AW14/15 collection is a bit of an experiment and has had handful of stressful setbacks on the way. I have used a couple of new techniques and woven leather patterns. I am now looking forward to see what Paris Fashion Week brings.