My London: Fashion designer Martine Rose

Martine Rose illustrated by Silvia Prada (ES Magazine)
Martine Rose illustrated by Silvia Prada (ES Magazine)

Home is…

Even though I live in north London and have done for most of my adult life, home is south London — spiritually.

What is your earliest memory of the city?

When I was eight or nine, of Clapham Common. They’d do these impromptu raves, all the kids used to come back from Raindance and Camden Palace and they’d collect on the common and carry on. I remember it being very impactful as a kid.

Which shops do you rely on?

I actually find shopping for clothes really stressful. I always love second-hand, because I like a proper root around. And there’s an amazing place called Bread by Bike on Brecknock Road. It’s a tiny independent baker. I discovered that over lockdown, because like a lot of people I didn’t really explore my area up until then.

Where are your favourite wellness spots?

I’m not a very hair or nails or facials sort of girl, so the ponds in Hampstead or Kentish Town swimming baths.

Tube, cab or walk?

I start feeling a little bit isolated and trapped if I don’t go on public transport for a long time. It’s a real interaction with the city, you’re participating in the city and its flow.

What would you do if you were Mayor for the day?

I’d make it much easier for people to give out late licences. Club culture has died a death and it makes me so sad. Twenty-four-hour licences for everyone and just more spaces for young people to go to at night.

Best place for a first date?

It’s a bloody long time for me! E Pellicci on Bethnal Green Road. That’s good for a daytime date. Keep it clean on your first date!

What is the first thing you do when you land back in London?

Without fail, I get a curry. I crave spice of any description, I have to have my face blown off.

Where do you go to let your hair down?

Me and my boyfriend very spontaneously went to Egg recently after taking the dog for a walk; basically in our pyjamas. But usually, there’s a really good, proper pub in King’s Cross called the King Charles.

If you could buy any building and live there, which would it be?

I love Soho, I worked there for many years and felt like it was my manor. I worked in Blacks, I love that building — even though it’s very haunted.

What makes London style special?

The waves and waves of immigration that made this country so great.

Where do you go when you’re in need of inspiration?

Honestly, my inspiration is London. I recently went to the Alice Neel exhibition at the Barbican, which blew my mind. I really miss working in a bar. People who would look so unassuming but would be wildly radical, eccentric, interesting people would come in. People are extraordinary.

Who is the most iconic Londoner?

That is hard! Linton Kwesi Johnson is a pretty good one.

What are you up to at the moment for work?

Working on the show. As a creative person, I think I’m happiest in the chaos beforehand. I’m terrified at the same time — the threat of the wheels coming off is real — but it’s also exciting.

What makes somebody a Londoner?

It’s an attitude. And knowing the free pleasures of the city.

Martine Rose will be showing her SS24 collection on 11 June